NHS Careers > Features > 2012 > March

Take the Leap with No Smoking Day

On 14 March 2012, NHS Careers is supporting No Smoking Day and highlighting those healthcare professionals who help smokers to quit. This year's theme, Take the leap, recognises that it is difficult to give up smoking and aims to empower smokers and inspire them to look forward to a smoke-free future.

This year, it is anticipated that over a million smokers will make an attempt to quit on No Smoking Day. Therefore, it is more important than ever that NHS staff provide support to people who are trying to quit and practical advice around the different smoking cessation treatments available.

People who smoke are at an increased risk from many cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease. Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke and nicotine both put a strain on the heart by making it work faster.

George is 54 and has been a regular smoker since he was 17. He decided to start cycling to work to try and increase his fitness and overall health. After riding to work for a week, George found he was struggling to breathe after one of his rides. When his breathing didn't improve, his wife, Alice, called 999 and spoke to an emergency medical dispatcher who logged details of the situation and reassured her that a paramedic and emergency care assistant were on their way and helped her to stay calm.

Once they arrived, George was given some oxygen and taken to the A&E department at the local hospital. When he arrived, George was seen by an A&E nurse and transferred to the ward where his heart rate was stabilised. The A&E nurse talked to George and reassured him until he was seen by Dr Collins, a cardiologist, who wanted him to have an electrocardiograph (ECG). Dr Collins explained that the ECG would provide a chart of his heart rate to find out what was wrong. The results of the ECG showed that George had heart disease and Dr Collins decided to keep him in hospital for a few more days to monitor his condition.

Once George started to improve, Dr Collins told him he was well enough to go home.

As part of his recovery, Dr Collins referred George to attend weekly sessions with a dietitian who helps him to plan healthy meals to lose weight. George also sees a smoking cessation adviser on a regular basis, who discusses different smoking cessation treatments with him to help him quit and improve his health.

Thanks to the advice and support provided to him by all the NHS staff, George is now taking nicotine replacement therapy and gradually reducing the number of cigarettes he has each day. In just four weeks time, he is looking forward to smoking his last cigarette and getting back on his bike.

In 2011, The No Smoking Day charity teamed up with The British Heart Foundation and now offers year-round resources and support to anyone who wants to quit smoking. For more information contact The No Smoking Day Charity.

Facts and statistics

  • 20 minutes after quitting, blood pressure and pulse return to normal rates.
  • Within 5 years of quitting, the risk of a heart attack is halved.
  • Within 10 years of quitting, the risk of lung cancer is halved and the risk of a heart attack is at the same level as non-smokers.