No Smoking Day: Smokers encouraged to quit to reduce dementia risk – Make Smoking History

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No Smoking Day: Smokers encouraged to quit to reduce dementia risk

Ahead of No Smoking Day (8th March), health experts are encouraging smokers to stop to protect their brain health as research shows those who smoke are more likely to develop dementia.

Lilac circle with the words inside writing: No Smoking Day 2023 8th March

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.[1]

But new YouGov data [2] commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has revealed that just 1 in 5 (19%) smokers in the North West know that smoking increases the risk of dementia.

Dr Chi Udeh-Momoh, a neuroscientist and dementia prevention expert based at Imperial College London, said: “Many people know that smoking affects the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of conditions like high blood pressure and stroke. But fewer realise that these conditions, in turn, increase the risk of dementia, or that the chemicals in cigarette smoke can speed up the natural ageing of the brain.”

Smoking raises the risk of developing dementia [3], particularly Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, as it harms the heart, blood vessels, and the brain.[4] But studies also suggest that quitting smoking reduces this risk substantially [5], 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.[3]

Dr Matt Evison, Clinical Lead for Making Smoking History, said: “If you smoke, the single most important thing you can do to improve your health is to stop smoking. If you don’t succeed straight away, it doesn’t mean you never will. Every quit attempt is one step closer to quitting for good, and there are very real health benefits that start almost immediately.

“In Greater Manchester we offer lots of support to help smokers quit and No Smoking Day is the perfect time to try and quit when thousands of other people are stopping too.”

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 this year’s No Smoking Day campaign is shining 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.”

For free, personalised support to stop smoking in Greater Manchester visit How to Quit or call the NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044.


[1] Alzheimer’s Research UK.  Public attitudes towards dementia. 2021.

[2] ASH Smokefree GB Adult Survey. Total sample size was 13,088 respondents. The online survey was undertaken between 16th February – 21st March 2022. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults

[3] Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A, Ames D, Ballard C, Banerjee S, Brayne C, Burns A, Cohen-Mansfield J, Cooper C, Costafreda SG. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. 2020 Aug 8;396(10248):413-46.

[4]  Tobacco use and dementia. WHO tobacco knowledge summaries. 8 July 2014

[5] “Former smokers did not show an increased risk of all-cause dementia (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.96-1.06), AD (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.96-1.13) and VaD (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.83-1.13).” 2015 meta-analysis –