Although it can be an uphill struggle to stub out cigarettes once and for all, it’s worth reminding yourself of all the health benefits of doing so, as well as the financial boost it will provide.
The theme of this year’s National No Smoking Day on 9th March is ‘Don ’t give up on giving up’ as each time you make a concerted effort to stop, you’re a step closer to being successful.
Here are some of the advantages, both health-wise and from a protection perspective, that stopping smoking once and for all could have.
Better health and longer life expectancyThe most important benefit of stopping smoking is that it can dramatically increase your life expectancy. For example, a man aged 30 could expect to add as much as 10 years onto his life by stopping smoking. Even stopping when you’re much older can have a significant impact on how long you live, with those who kick the habit at the age of 60 adding potentially another three years onto their lives.
Stopping smoking will make you feel much healthier too.
• Within around two to 12 weeks you should feel less tired and as though you have more stamina, due to your blood circulation improving. This will help boost your immune system and should make you feel like you have more energy, making it easier to exercise.
• Around nine months after stopping smoking, your lung capacity should improve, so you can go for a walk or run without feeling breathless.
• You’ll feel less stressed. Although many smokers reach for their cigarettes when they are feeling anxious, scientific studies show that people’s stress levels are lower after they stop smoking.
• As well as feeling physical benefits when you stop smoking, you should also start to see them too. Kicking the habit helps slow the visible signs of ageing, as your skin will no longer be damaged by the toxins in cigarette smoke, which can speed up the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
• Your teeth will also look better if you stop smoking. Tar and nicotine in cigarettes turn teeth yellow over time, so they’ll stay whiter if you stop. Giving up cigarettes also reduces the chances of you developing gum disease and losing teeth prematurely – and it’ll make your breath a lot nicer too.
• Stopping smoking will benefit your non-smoking family and friends too, as passive smoking increases their risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. If you smoke and have children you are effectively doubling the chances of them getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections and asthma. Children who live with someone who smokes have three times the lifetime risk of getting lung cancer compared to a child from a non-smoking home.
You can find tips from the NHS on how to stop smoking here.
Reducing the cost of protection – or getting more cover for your moneyWhen you stop smoking, you won’t just save money because you’re no longer buying cigarettes.
Being a smoker can bump up the cost of protection policies such as life insurance, income protection and critical illness cover by as much as 50%, so you could make big savings if you kick the habit.
For example, a 35-year-old man needing £150,000 level term life cover over 25 years would pay approximately 48% less if they were a non-smoker, compared to a smoker. This saving could potentially be used to increase the level of cover, whilst staying within the same budget.
Similarly, a 40-year-old non-smoker would pay roughly the same amount for £100,000 of life and critical illness cover as a smoker would for £60,000 of cover. Having a higher level of cover in place could have a huge financial impact if the policyholder suffers a serious illness such as cancer or a heart attack, but also on earlier stage conditions covered by the policy. Where a claim is made for one of these conditions, the sum paid by the insurer is typically a percentage of the main sum assured, so a non-smoker with £100,000 of cover would be able to benefit from a much bigger pay-out than a smoker paying the same amount for half this level of cover.
The reason premiums are so much higher for smokers is that insurers consider them much higher risk, as they are more likely to claim on a policy due to early death or serious health issues, such as cancer, heart disease or strokes.
You won’t be considered a non-smoker by insurers until you’ve stopped smoking for at least a year, and it’s only at this point that you’ll be able to benefit from lower protection premiums. When you give up smoking, depending on your provider, you may be able to switch from smoker to non-smoker rates without needing to submit a whole new application, although you may need to have a swab test or sign a health declaration first.
Find out more in our guide How does smoking affect life insurance?
If you have stopped smoking and wish to review your current protection, call one of our protection advisers today on 0800 073 1932.