It is the best time to quit smoking – health has never been so important

The Covid pandemic has ­reawakened our interests in health and our instincts to be healthy in the long term. So we’re going through a phase of ­adopting healthy habits and giving up bad ones.

Now is probably one of the best times to quit smoking.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made maintaining the health of ourselves and our families top of mind, so now’s the best time to seriously attempt to quit smoking” says Dr J Taylor Hays, director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Centre.

He adds: “Quitting tobacco is the best thing you can do to improve your health now and add years of life to your future.”

Tobacco users have also got an increased risk of becoming very ill if they contract the virus that causes Covid-19.

To younger smokers, those younger than 40, Dr Hays asks: “Do you want to add 10 years to your life?” He says, if the answer is yes, then the easiest way is to quit smoking.

All of the ill effects like bronchitis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, chronic heart disease, lung cancer and many other cancers can be avoided if you stop. If people stop at a young age, they’ll avoid virtually all of them.

Furthermore, it’s never too late to stop.

When I saw a patient who smoked I used to say to them that I wished I smoked because there was no way I could improve my health as much as stopping smoking.

“Make an attempt,” he says. “You still can avoid a lot of the ill health effects of smoking, stopping whenever. So if you’ve tried and failed, try again.”

I presented a TV series once about stopping smoking following people trying to quit. We found certain actions helped. If you want to quit, try them.

It’s important to plan but be easy on yourself, stop in stages: deciding to stop, preparing to stop, stopping, staying stopped.

I wrote a book (Quit Smoking, now out of print) about what to do in each stage.

 As an ex-smoker myself I knew about the craving and how to eliminate it, how to cope with relapse and how not to gain weight. And I explained that quitting may not be as difficult as you think.

The other thing to remember is that your lungs start recovering as soon as you stop too.