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- You’ll be healthier and less out of breath because smoking decreases your lung capacity.
- You’ll save yourself a packet. The average smoker spends an astonishing £27.54 a week and £90,000 over their lifetime on cigarettes.
Use this tool to work out how much money you are saving by quitting smoking.
- You’ll look better. Chemicals in cigarettes restrict blood flow to your skin. Smokers have more wrinkled and saggy faces by the time they’re in their mid-20s.
- Quitting helps save the planet. Deforestation due to tobacco production accounts for nearly 5% of overall deforestation in the developing world.
- Someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times more likely to die from cancer than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s. Read more about the dangers of teen smoking.
- The younger you start smoking, the more damage there will be to your body as an adult. Read more about the dangers of teen smoking.
- Not smoking will make you instantly more attractive. Most people prefer kissing non-smokers.
Eight ways to get through quitting
OK, enough of the arm twisting. You want to give up, so where do you start?
- Make a deal with good friends to quit. You may find that they want to quit as well.
- It’s very hard to give up by willpower alone. Get all the help you can find: 12 to 18-year-olds get free nicotine replacement therapy (patches, sprays, gum) on the NHS. Ask your GP for help stopping smoking. They won’t be shocked that you’re a smoker.
- Smokers often hate other people quitting, so be prepared for a few put-downs. It’s a good idea to have something ready to say when you’re offered a cigarette. Here are a few reasons (but we’re sure you can think of better ones):
"Smoking costs me £xxx a year. I’m giving up so I can buy myself a new mobile/driving lessons/a holiday."
"I can’t smoke in my new weekend job so I want to give up."
"My boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t like kissing a smoker." It’s true: two-thirds of teenagers say smoking reduces sexual attractiveness.
"I’m taking my sport seriously and I need to give up if I want to be an athlete."
- Prepare for a tough few days when you first quit. Most people find that the first days are the hardest to cope with. But most of your withdrawal symptoms should subside after the first four weeks. Using nicotine gum and patches (NRT) is the best way to cope with cravings.
- Worried about weight gain while you’re quitting? Load your bag up with low-calorie snacks, such as apple chips, carrot sticks, mints, popcorn or chewing gum, to get you through the cravings. Read more about how you can quit smoking without putting on weight.
- Get your family to support you. Your parents will be on your side. If they don’t know you smoke, they might freak out at first, but if you tell them you’re quitting they’ll do all they can to help.
- Do your best to stay away from alcohol, coffee, sugar and sweets while you quit. Studies have shown that these foods (especially the booze) can stimulate cigarette cravings. Here's some advice on how to cut down on your drinking.
- And remember, it takes about a month for the nicotine cravings to subside. Take it one day at a time and soon you’ll be smokefree for the rest of your life.
Dr Julie Sharp of Cancer Research UK answers seven important questions about the effect of sun on your skin and the importance of sunscreen.
1. How long can sunburn last?
Days. You can get sunburnt in just 10 minutes, even in the UK. If you overdo it at a festival or on holiday, skin can be red, painful and peeling for a week or more.
2. What suncream should I use?
Use factor 15 plus with UVA and UVB protection, and apply regularly (every two to three hours). Use more after swimming. The paler your skin is, the more care you need to take. If you're blonde, a redhead, have fair skin or lots of moles or freckles, you have a higher risk of skin cancer and need to take extra care.
3. I'm black. Is sun exposure still dangerous?
Yes. Black skin can burn too – it just takes more heat to do it. Although very dark black skin has a natural SPF, we still advise using an SPF of 15. Although skin cancer is less common in black people, it tends to be more aggressive. Take particular care of the soles of your feet and palms of your hands, as they're more prone to skin cancer.
4. Sun makes me feel good. What's so bad about it anyway?
Right now the worst thing about it might seem like sunburn and strap marks, but give it a few years and you could have wrinkles, moles, freckles, brown patches and, sometimes, skin cancer. Every year, more than 2,000 people die from malignant melanoma, and more than two people aged 15 to 34 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every day in the UK.
5. Is sunbathing really worse when you're a teenager?
Yes, younger skin is more easily damaged than older skin. And you can't undo the damage. Once you've been sunburnt your skin will age prematurely.
6. I'm still not persuaded. Anything else to put me off?
The most common kind of skin cancer is rarely fatal. But it can be seriously disfiguring. If skin cancer is found on the face, it has to be cut out and may even need plastic surgery. There is a risk of permanent scarring, or part of your nose may have to be cut away.
7. Are sunbeds safer?
No. Getting a tan on a sunbed will increase your risk of getting skin cancer and make you look old.
It's illegal for under-18s to use sunbeds. Find more information on the Cancer Research UK website.
If you start smoking when you're in your teens, get ready for stained teeth, wrinkly skin and a one-in-two chance of dying early.
Effects of smoking at age 20
Nobody smokes their first fag thinking they’ll be a smoker, but if you’re experimenting it’s easy to become hooked. Most adult smokers start in their teens, and half of them will be killed by their habit (on average, they’ll pay nearly £2,000 a year for the privilege).
Right now, smoking means that you’re becoming unfit, you’re getting tiny wrinkles all round your mouth, and you’re losing lots of cash. If your boyfriend smokes too, sex probably doesn’t feel as good as it could: cigarettes affect his erections and your sensitivity.
Smoking and your looks at 30
Still puffing? Shame. As a smoker you’re now looking older than your years. Your skin, which has been starved of oxygen, is grey and lined. Your teeth are stained and your hair is dull and smelly. If that’s not enough, all the smoke toxins in your body have given you cellulite.
When you want to have kids, things will be trickier for you than for non-smokers: female smokers reduce their fertility and increase their chances of miscarriage, cervical cancer and complications during pregnancy and delivery. Smokers’ babies are also more at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Higher risk of lung cancer at 40-plus
The length of time that you've smoked is important. If you've smoked 20 a day for 40 years, your risk of lung cancer is about eight times more than if you've smoked 40 a day for 20 years.
As a teenager, your body is going through many physical changes – changes that need to be supported by a healthy, balanced diet.
By eating a varied and balanced diet as shown in the eatwell plate, you should be able to get all the energy and nutrients you need from the food and drink you consume, allowing your body to grow and develop properly. Some important nutrients to be aware of are:
Eating healthily doesn't have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It simply means eating a variety of foods and cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate. These foods should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.
If you're watching your weight, a healthy, balanced diet is the way to go. Dieting, skipping breakfast or starving yourself don't work.
Here are some tips to help you eat more healthily:
Don't skip breakfast
Skipping meals won't help you lose weight and is not good for you, because you can miss out on important nutrients. Having breakfast will help you get some of the vitamins and minerals you need for good health. Try our healthy breakfast ideas.
Get your 5 A DAY
Fruit and vegetables are good sources of many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs during your teenage years. Aim to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg a day. Find out what counts as 5 A DAY.
Healthier snack ideas
Cut down on food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt, such as sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, sugary fizzy drinks and crisps, which are high in calories (energy). Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain and becoming overweight. Get tips on eating less sugar, fat and salt.
Aim to drink six to eight glasses of fluids a day – water and lower-fat milk are all healthy choices. Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so try to drink no more than one glass (about 150ml) of fruit juice or smoothie each day.
If you often feel run down, you may be low on iron. Teenage girls are especially at risk because they lose iron during their period. Try to get your iron from a variety of foods. Some good sources are red meat, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, and bread. Find out more in iron deficiency.
Vitamin D helps keep bones and teeth healthy. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, but it is also available in some foods. Find out more about getting vitamin D.
Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products, and leafy green vegetables. Find out more about calcium.
Diets that promise quick weight loss are often not nutritionally balanced, meaning you could miss out on important vitamins and minerals. They also tend to focus on short-term results, so you end up putting the weight back on. Get tips on losing weight the healthy way.
Does eating make you feel anxious, guilty or upset? An eating disorder is serious and is not something you should deal with on your own. Talk about it with someone you trust. Learn more in eating disorders explained.
Are you concerned you might be drinking too much? Answer these simple questions and find out what kind of a relationship you have with alcohol.
Do you think you're doing enough physical activity? This simple assessment will help you understand what the recommended levels are and will assess how close you are to meeting them.