Welcome to the teachers section of "smoke’s no joke". We aim to arm you with all the information you need to tackle smoking issues in school.

Health issues

Smoking clogs the arteries

Heart and circulation

Tobacco smoking accounts for more than 25,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the UK each year (approximately 20% of all smoking related deaths in the UK).

Coronary heart disease

To stay working effectively, our heart muscles need a steady supply of oxygenated blood. A body affected by coronary heart disease (CHD) will not have a heart that is working as it should.

CHD is indicated by; angina, heart attack, thrombosis (blood clot), blocked arteries.

Smoking is the most significant of the non-hereditary risk factors in CHD. High blood pressure and cholesterol are also factors. Even people who do not consider themselves as regular or heavy smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack than a non-smoker.

A slow and painful death

What happens to the heart when you take a drag?

Within a minute of inhaling tobacco, nicotine stimulates the body to produce adrenaline, making the heart beat faster and work harder. The heart rate may increase by up to 30% within the first 10 minutes of smoking.

Meanwhile, the effects of carbon monoxide in the smoke reduce the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry to other parts of the body and back to the heart itself. This blood flow can become further compromised by fatty deposits in the arteries, or the formation of blood clots. When the blood flow is cut off completely, a person suffers a heart attack.


Where the artery wall balloons and could cause it to rupture or a clot to form. Smokers are more likely to die from a ruptured aneurysm of the abdominal aorta than a non-smoker.

Peripheral vascular disease

This is where the blood vessels in a person's leg or foot are blocked (probably with fatty deposits from cigarettes). This can lead to gangrene and the limb having to be amputated. The risk to smokers of this happening is 16 times higher than for non-smokers.

Health issues

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Smokers are much more likely to suffer a stroke (cerebral thrombosis) than non-smokers. Heavy smokers (more than 20 a day) are up to four times more likely to have a stroke.

But, there is hope. It's never too late to quit. The extra risks smokers take with their heart reduces significantly after they've stopped smoking for five years.

Please refer to the Ash website for additional information

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