New campaign highlights the toxic effect of smoking on the heart, brain and lungs

Public Health England has launched a new Smokefree Health Harms campaign highlighting the impact and serious damage that smoking causes the body.

The new campaign, supported by TV advertising, brings to life the toxic cycle of dirty blood caused by inhaling the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes, including arsenic and cyanide flowing through the body and damaging major organs. The chemicals move through the heart, the lungs and into the bloodstream, finally damaging cells in the brain.

Along with the heart and lungs, the brain is particularly vulnerable to these toxins, leading to a faster decline in functionality and an increased risk of stroke and dementia.

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that smokers are twice as likely to die from a stroke than non-smokers1. Smoking can cause the arteries to narrow which, in turn, increases the likelihood of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.

Studies also suggest that smoking accelerates cognitive decline in men2 and women3 leading smokers to experience poorer memory and a greater decline in reasoning in later life.

The risk of dementia, along with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer are further increased when smoking is combined with any or all of heavy drinking, poor diet, lack of exercise and high blood pressure45.

Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health in Blackpool, said: “We know about the serious effect smoking has on the heart and lungs but smokers need to be aware of how much potential damage is being done to the brain and other vital organs through toxins in cigarettes entering the blood.

“Smoking is the major cause of premature death, with one in two smokers dying prematurely from smoking related diseases, and it is extremely worrying that people still underestimate the health harms associated with it.

“However, it is not all doom and gloom for smokers looking to quit this New Year.  Within five years of stopping smoking, your risk of stroke can be reduced to the same as a lifetime non-smoker.”

The new campaign promotes the support, advice and a range of tools available for anyone looking to stop smoking.

Anyone looking to quit in Blackpool can contact the Stop Smoking service on:

Tel: 01253 651570



1 50-Year Trends in Smoking-Related Mortality in the United States (2013) – Michael J. Thun, M.D., Brian D. Carter, M.P.H., Diane Feskanich, Sc.D., Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., Ross Prentice, Ph.D., Alan D. Lopez, Ph.D., Patricia Hartge, Sc.D., and Susan M. Gapstur, Ph.D., M.P.H.

2 Impact of smoking on cognitive decline in early old age: the Whitehall II cohort study. Arch Gen Psychiatry 69: 627– 635. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.2016. – Sabia S, Elbaz A, Dugravot A, Head J, Shipley M, et al. (2012)

3 Gender differences in the association of smoking and drinking with the development of cognitive impairment. (2013) PLoS One 8: e75095. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075095. – Park B, Park J, Jun JK, Choi KS, Suh M –

4 Combined impact of smoking and heavy alcohol use on cognitive decline in early old age: Whitehall II prospective cohort study. (2013) Br J Psychiatry 203: 120–125. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.112.122960. Hagger-Johnson G, Sabia S, Brunner EJ, Shipley M, Bobak M, et al. and-heavy-drinking-speeds-up-cognitive-decline-Hagger-Johnson

5 Healthy Lifestyles Reduce the Incidence of Chronic Diseases and Dementia: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort Study. PLoS One 8: e81877 (2013) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081877. Elwood P, Galante J, Pickering J, Palmer S, Bayer A, et al.