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Senior Man Suffering From Dementia At Home. Illustration Of Mess

National No Smoking Day Raises Awareness Of Dementia Risk

This year’s National No Smoking Day taking place this week is intended to raise awareness of the greater risk of developing dementia for those who smoke. 

The national awareness day, which is held on the second Wednesday in March, will encourage more people to ditch smoking to boost their health. This year’s theme is ‘stopping smoking protects your brain health’ and is being supported by Alzheimer’s Research UK

Smoking is one of the only things you can do to reduce your chances of having dementia, with just one-third of the public realising they can play a part at lowering their risk of developing the illness. 

This is despite dementia being the most feared condition for people over the age of 55, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK, coming in above cancer. 

Those who are concerned about their cognitive decline as they age can do something to protect their brain health, and that is to quit smoking. 

As smoking harms the vascular system, it can lead to small bleeds in the brain. This, in turn, could result in dementia. At the same time, toxins in the smoke can stress brain cells or cause them to inflame, which can lead to Alzheimer’s. 

Dr Chi Udeh-Momoh, neuroscientist and dementia prevention expert at Imperial College London, said quitting smoking can “be life-changing”. 

While it was acknowledged that many people understand smoking can result in high blood pressure and strokes, few realise this can raise the risk of dementia or cause the ageing of the brain to speed up.

“It’s fantastic that brain health is the theme of No Smoking Day 2023. Initiatives like this are so important in raising awareness of the steps we can take to help keep the brain healthy,” Dr Udeh-Momoh stated. 

Despite the greater risk associated with smoking, only 18 per cent of smokers know this, whereas more than 70 per cent are aware of the connection with lung diseases or cancers, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) revealed. 

Chief executive of ASH Deborah Arnott added that quitting cigarettes can lead to health benefits within just weeks. She also reminded smokers who are interested in ditching their habit to go for it on No Smoking Day, as they are more likely to be joined with thousands of other smokers wanting to quit too. 

Ms Arnott also encouraged people to look for local support, as those who get help from trained professionals are three times more likely to be successful than those who do it alone. 

The key messages for this year’s No Smoking Day are to “never give up on giving up”, as every attempt you make is one step closer to succeeding. It wants to remind people that every cigarette releases chemicals that are harmful to the brain, so the sooner you can quit, the better your chances of not developing dementia become. 

Smokers who have engaged with the campaign and want to use No Smoking Day as the catalyst for their smoke-free journey could ask for help from GPs and pharmacies, download the NHS Quit Smoking app, find information on different stop smoking aids and use an online Personal Quit Plan tool that finds what support would suit them best. 

It also provides guidance on how liquid vapes can help you quit smoking, reducing your reliance on tobacco while also increasing your success as you break habits slowly.