The campaign has been timed to coincide with New Year when traditionally smokers resolve to kick the habit, and follows a review commissioned by Public Health England which highlights the multiple impacts that toxic ingredients in cigarettes can have on the body. Whilst many smokers know that smoking causes cancer and harms the lungs and heart, the new report highlights how it also damages:

  • Bones and muscles - Smoking causes progressive harm to the musculoskeletal system, and has a negative impact on bone mineral density. Harms include: 25% increased risk of any fracture and a 40% increase in the risk of hip fractures among men, slower healing after injury, increased risk of back and neck pain, leading to a 79% increase in chronic back pain and a 114% increase in disabling lower back pain, significant cause of rheumatoid arthritis and can reduce the impact of treatment.
  • Brain - Current smokers are 53% more likely to develop cognitive impairment than non-smokers and 59% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease
  • Teeth - Smoking increases the likelihood of tooth loss and decay
  • Eyes - Smoking damages sight by increasing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by 78%-358% and increasing the risk of age-related cataracts.
Infographic: How smoking harms you
Infographic: How smoking harms you
 

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer comments: "Whilst many smokers know the damage cigarettes do to their hearts and lungs, they are much less likely to be aware of how harmful smoking is to the body - essentially ‘rotting’ it from the inside out, and roll-ups are no exception. January is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their health and try to stop smoking. Millions of people have used Smokefree support and we are hoping that this year, even more will take advantage of the free expertise and resources on offer."

The campaign also tackles common misconceptions around hand-rolled tobacco, or roll-ups. Use of roll-ups has increased significantly. In 1990, 18% of male smokers and 2% of female smokers said they smoked mainly hand-rolled cigarettes3 but by 2013 this had risen to 40% for men and 23% for women4. New figures show that half of smokers (49%) who only smoke roll-ups wrongly believe they are less harmful than manufactured cigarettes. In fact, hand-rolled cigarettes are at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette.

Smoking Rots campaign poster
Smoking Rots campaign poster
 

Kick-It Stop Smoking Service, and Public Health England will be continuing to help any smoker wishing to make a quit attempt in 2015 with a range of free and proven support tools.

Kick-It’s Head of Stop Smoking Services, Simon Nadolski, says: "We are here for smokers wanting help to quit and New Year is a great time to try. We provide a free, friendly stop smoking service on your doorstep."

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director for Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England added: "Much of the harm caused by smoking doesn’t become obvious until middle age but the invisible damage can start shockingly early - even by the late teens. The earlier a smoker quits the better, but quitting at any age can help reverse at least some of the damage. That’s why there is no time better than now to quit. Stop smoking and stop the rot."

Smokers living in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster and who are looking to quit are being encouraged to search ‘Smokefree’ online or contact Kick-It Stop Smoking Service on 020 3434 2500 for the full range of free tools and support. The Kick-It website can be found at www.kick-it.org.uk and Kick-It are on facebook and twitter, @KICK_IT_NOW.