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Preventing ill health by risky behaviours - Alcohol and Tobacco

Alcohol - Risks to you

Alcohol is a depressant. Drink too much and your brain will have difficulty processing information. This means you may have trouble with:

  • judgement and self-control
  • vision and hearing
  • talking and walking
  • remembering things

Over time, alcohol damages your liver. If you regularly drink too much, you're at risk of developing a range of alcoholic liver diseases. These include:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Alcohol-induced cirrhosis

If you drink just three units of alcohol a day, you increase your risk of developing many types of cancer.

The benefits in reducing your drinking levels

Luckily, by quitting drinking you can actually reverse a lot of these symptoms and restore your health. Some of the benefits youíll see when you stop drinking include:

  • Increases your bodyís ability absorb crucial vitamins and minerals
  • Speed up and restore your metabolism, leading to increased fat loss
  • Higher levels of energy and an increase positive outlook
  • Lowered cancer risk and decreased levels of stress
  • Reduction of blood pressure and associated stroke and heart attack risks
  • A decrease in mental fogginess and increase in mental performance
  • Faster immune response and increased healing from injury and illness

Tobacco - Risks to you

With the nicotine and tar working together, there are a lot of bad diseases linked to smoking cigarettes. Diseases like, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, various cancers and heart disease are all caused by smoking. Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as:

  • coronary heart disease
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • peripheral vascular disease (damaged blood vessels)
  • cerebrovascular disease (damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain)

The benefits of stopping smoking

The good news is that itís never too late to stop smoking, and when you do, the risks to your health drop dramatically. To name just a few:

  • within just a few days, you should find it easier to breathe and find you have more energy
  • after one year, your risk of heart attack is half that of a smoker
  • Long term improvements:-
  • 5 years - Your heart-attack risk falls to about half that of a smoker.
  • 10 years - Your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.
  • 15 years - Your risk of heart disease is nearly the same as someone who has never smoked

And as well as all those health benefits, quitting smoking is good for your finances too.

Smoking is expensive and you might be surprised at how quickly it all adds up. On average, most people who quit smoking save around £250 each month.

Thatís nearly £3,000 a year going up in smoke. What else could you spend that money on? Try our quick cost calculator and see how much you could save, go to 

How to stop smoking

  • Medication
  • e-cigeratte
  • Patches
  • smoking cessation

Useful alcohol and tobacco related websites and services

The impact of alcohol and tobacco use on your NHS

  • More than 10 million people drink at levels that could be harming their health
  • Nearly 7 million people smoke
  • In 2018/19 there were more than 358,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions
  • In 2019/20 there were more than 506,100 tobacco-related hospital admissions
  • Harmful alcohol use costs the NHS an estimated £3.5 billion each year
  • Smoking costs the NHS an estimated £2 billion each year.