Smokers are being urged to quit with today's 'No Smoking Day' theme being 'Stopping Smoking Protects Your Brain Health.'
According to Alzheimer's Research UK, dementia is the most feared health condition for people over the age of 55 – more than any other life-threatening disease including cancer and diabetes.
Text on image: Today is the day to stop smoking. It's time to take your health back! For help to quit smoking, search 'NHS smokefree'
Smoking raises the risk of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, as it harms the vascular system (heart and blood vessels) and the brain. Studies also suggest that quitting smoking reduces this risk substantially and smoking has been identified as one of twelve risk factors that if eliminated entirely, could collectively prevent or delay up to 40% of dementia cases.
However, data from Alzheimer's Research UK show only a third of UK adults know there are things they can do to help reduce their risk of dementia and stopping smoking is one of them.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, who is helping to co-ordinate this year's No Smoking Day, said:
"Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve your health. It has been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia, heart disease, cancer and stroke. You experience health benefits within weeks of stopping, breathing easier and feeling fitter.
'No Smoking Day is the perfect time to quit smoking when thousands of other people are stopping too. There are many ways to stop from nicotine replacement therapy to vaping and free local support to stop smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to succeed in quitting with help from a trained professional than with willpower alone.'
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Research UK, said:
'Just a third of people realise that we can take steps to help reduce our risk of developing dementia in later life. This has to change, which is why improving people's understanding of the things that they can do to shape their brain health is a real priority for Alzheimer's Research UK.
'We're delighted to be working alongside ASH to shine a light on the link between smoking and brain health. We hope the positive message that quitting smoking at any point can help reduce your dementia risk gives people who smoke fresh motivation to quit this No Smoking Day.'
Visit NHS Better Health - Quit Smoking to find out where you can get free access to the latest quitting aids, apps, information, one-to-one advice, and local support.