quit smoking for your heart

Smoking is a contributing factor to heart disease. Quitting can dramatically reduce your risk.

How does smoking affect my body, heart and cardiovascular system?

Smoking has several negative effects on the body. The toxins in tobacco smoke cause inflammation, hardening of your arteries and increased risk of blood clots. Your blood pressure increases, putting pressure on your blood vessels, which can lead to damage. Smoking also reduces the available oxygen in your blood, so a smoker’s heart has to work 30 per cent harder than a non-smoker’s heart.

Aside from the impacts on your heart, smoking is linked to lung cancer, breast cancer, oral cancer, stroke, diabetes, infertility, and other health complications. Exposing loved ones to second-hand smoke also damages their health.

Does smoking increase my risk of heart disease?

Yes. Your risk of heart disease increases along with the number of cigarettes you smoke and how long you have smoked. Heart disease is the second-leading cause of death in Canada. Smokers are up to four times more likely to have a sudden cardiac death than non-smokers.

The good news is that your body starts to recover within 20 minutes of quitting smoking. Within a year of quitting, you experience a 50 per cent decrease in your risk of having a smoking-related heart attack, and after 15 years smoke-free, your risk of dying of a heart attack is the same as someone who never smoked.

What tools are there to help me quit smoking?

There are many free or low-cost options to help you quit smoking, from free nicotine replacement therapy to clinics, apps and phone coaching. Here’s how to get started:

  • All British Columbians have access to 12 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy (such as nicotine gum or patches or lozenges or inhalers) through the B.C. Smoking Cessation Program. It’s available at most pharmacies without a prescription. This program also provides free prescription smoking cessation medication for people who qualify under Fair PharmaCare. Ask your physician.
  • Fraser Health has information on quitting smoking. And we offer drop-in quit smoking clinics at a free monthly clinic at Ridge Meadows Hospital (call 604-463-1820 to register).
  • Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre also has a smoking cessation clinic that offers a free 12 week program that includes group sessions and follow-up phone calls. Physician or nurse practitioner referral is required. Call 604-582-4565 for more information.
  • An online resource called Quit4Life is a resource designed to help youth quit smoking.
  • Access free and confidential one-to-one coaching to stop smoking through QuitNow. QuitNow provides support in 300 languages through their interactive online service or through text, chat, email, phone support and online communities of quitters. Visit Quitnow.ca or call 1-877-455-2233.

Can I smoke when I am in hospital for a heart procedure?

No. Fraser Health has a Smoke, Tobacco and VFree Premises policy that prohibits smoking of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and the use of (medical) marijuana or vapour products on all of our properties, parking lots, grounds and buildings. As public places, our hospitals and sites are also designated smoke-free under the provincial government’s Tobacco and Vapour Control Act. These policies cover all Fraser Health employees and contractors, patients and visitors. So if you want to smoke while being treated by us, you will need to leave our property.

A hospital stay is a good time to start your smoke-free journey. You’ll have lots of support and will heal faster after surgery if you do not smoke. We encourage all of our inpatients to access free nicotine replacement therapy during their stay. Simply ask a health care provider on your unit for free supplies and quitting smoking education materials.


The following resources have information about quitting smoking: