Will you kick the smoking habit this March?

Will you kick the smoking habit this March?
Stopping smoking can have significant benefits for your health, but there are plenty of other advantages that you might not be aware of.

It’s National No Smoking Day on 10th March, when smokers across the country will try to stop smoking for good. If you’re planning to quit but are worried it will be an uphill struggle, here’s a rundown of some of the positive effects stubbing out cigarettes once and for all could have.

Better health and longer life expectancy

The benefits to your health from stopping smoking can usually be seen almost immediately

• Your blood circulation typically improves within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping, which reduces tiredness and boosts your immune system.

• Your lung capacity can improve by as much as 10% within nine months of stopping smoking, making it possible to go for a brisk walk or run without feeling out of breath.

• Cigarette smoke contains toxins which can damage elastin and collagen in your skin, speeding up the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. When you give up, your skin is able to get more nutrients and oxygen, helping to slow facial ageing.

• Not only will your teeth be whiter if you stop, but your breath will be fresher too. It will also reduce the chances of you developing gum disease and losing teeth prematurely.

• Giving up cigarettes will also protect the health of your friends and family too, as passive smoking increases their risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Children of smokers are at double the risk of getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections and asthma, and have three times the lifetime risk of getting lung cancer compared to a child from a non-smoking home.

Perhaps most important of all is the fact that stopping smoking can help extend your life expectancy. For example, a man who stops smoking at the age of 30 could add another 10 years onto his life. Even stopping much later in life can add years to your life expectancy, with quitting at the age of 60 potentially adding another three years onto your life.

You can find tips from the NHS on how to stop smoking here.

Reducing the cost of protection – or getting more cover for your money

Being a smoker can significantly bump up the cost of protection policies such as life insurance and critical illness cover.

This is because smokers are more likely to suffer from illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and strokes, and are therefore more likely to claim on a policy than non-smokers.

You’ll be considered a smoker if you’ve used any tobacco products within the last 12 months, so even if you’ve given up, it’ll be a year before you’re able to benefit from lower premiums. The good news is that many insurers will allow you to switch to non-smoker rates without needing to submit a whole new application, although you may need to have a swab test or make a declaration of health first. Notifying your provider when you have stopped smoking is essential, as you may be able to reduce the cost of your life insurance premiums by as much as around 60%.

For example, prices for a 40-year-old man wanting £100,000 of level term life cover over 25 years would cost around 54% less if they were a non-smoker who has been nicotine-free for 12 months. These savings could potentially be used to increase the level of cover, whilst staying within the same budget.

An alternative to saving money would be to increase cover for the same cost. A 40 year old non smoker could have £100,000 life and critical illness cover for a similar price that a smoker would pay for £50,000. This could have a significant impact if they were to suffer from cancer or a heart attack, but would also mean that additional payments for less critical conditions that pay out a percentage of the sum assured would also be a more meaningful amount.

Find out more in our guide How does smoking affect life insurance?

Using the savings to overpay your mortgage

Cigarettes don’t come cheap, so even if you don’t smoke a huge amount, giving up could provide a significant boost to your bank balance.

UK smokers typically smoke 10 cigarettes a day, and spend on average around £152 a month on cigarettes.

Based on an average mortgage of £200,000 over 25 years, with monthly payments of £897 at an average rate of 2.5%, if you stopped smoking and overpaid your mortgage by £150 a month, you’d be able to cut 4 years and 9 months from your mortgage term, saving £13,905 in interest...

Most lenders will allow you to make overpayments of up to 10% of your mortgage balance each year without penalty, but it’s worth checking with yours before you overpay to see whether any charges will apply.

You can find out what a difference overpaying your mortgage by even a small amount could make with our Mortgage Overpayment Calculator.

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