Smoking is the most important cause of preventable ill health and premature mortality in the UK. Smoking is a major risk factor for many diseases, such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease. It is also associated with cancers in other organs, including lip, mouth, throat, bladder, kidney, stomach, liver and cervix.

Smoking is one of the main causes of health inequalities in England, with the harm concentrated in more disadvantaged communities and groups.

Stopping smoking at any time has considerable health benefits. For people using secondary care services, there are other advantages. These include shorter hospital stays, lower drug doses, fewer complications, higher survival rates, better wound healing, decreased infections and fewer re-admissions after surgery.

Smoking is not a lifestyle choice but a chronic relapsing condition needing treatment. There are a range of effective, evidence-based medications that have been used to help smokers stop for over twenty years, such as nicotine replacement therapy. These products are still widely available along with more recent nicotine and non-nicotine products such as vapes. The government has committed the NHS in England to become smoke free; supporting smokers in contact with the healthcare system to quit is a prevention priority in the NHS Long Term Plan and every health and care professional has a role to play.

The introduction of smokefree workplace legislation in England was effective at reducing exposure to second hand smoke and encouraged smokers to cut down or quit.

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