Smoking cigarettes can be highly addictive and bad for your long term health. Smoking can lead to many serious health problems including, cancer, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, fertility issues and poor mental health. And the younger you start smoking, the more damage you can do.

Vaping or using an e-cigarette also means that you inhale nicotine, but in a vapour (formed from a liquid) rather than smoke. Find out more here.

Once you start smoking, it’s very hard to stop. Cigarettes contain a chemical called nicotine, which makes them very addictive.

What to do if you feel peer pressure to smoke?

If others around you start smoking, it sometimes makes you feel like you should too. It can be hard to stand up for yourself and can even make you feel anxious or lonely. But it’s important to be assertive and not give into peer pressure. It is good to say “no” to smoking. If you are struggling, you can talk to an adult for help or you can also contact childline or take a look at their peer pressure page and peer pressure message boards to see what other young people have to say.

Reasons to quit smoking (or not to start in the first place):

Lung smoke

  • Avoid serious smoking-related disease/illness
  • Save money – buying cigarettes is expensive
  • Reduce stress levels – smoking can increase stress levels

Girl running

  • Feel fitter and better at exercise – smoking can reduce lung capacity
  • Stop bad breath and stained teeth – tobacco can stain your teeth and make your breath smell


  • Protect the health of those around you – regularly breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke can lead to the same diseases as smokers
  • Save the planet – production of tobacco by big multinational companies is linked to high levels of deforestation

Tips to help you quit:

Nicotine tabs and patches

  • Congratulate yourself – just reading this page and looking for help is a big step to quitting
  • Get help – there are lots of services and resources to help you quit including stop smoking services and nicotine replacement therapy (e.g. gums, patches)

Quit smoking

  • Set a quit date and tell people about it to help you stick to it
  • Get rid of your cigarettes to avoid temptation
  • Know your triggers and how to handle them e.g. some people might feel like smoking with a drink of alcohol

Fist bump

  • Make a deal with a good friend and quit together, and ask your family and friends to support you
  • And finally, be positive – remember that by quitting you’re not giving anything up, you’re actually gaining freedom from addiction and making a healthy life choice

Where to get help?

Quit smoking

Your Local Stop Smoking Service (click here to find your local service)

NHS Smokefree app

NHS Smokefree app

One You logo

Get your personal quit plan from One You

GP logo

Talk to your GP or local pharmacy

Cigarettes and the Law

  • You must be aged 18 or over to buy tobacco products in the UK. It is illegal for shops to sell you tobacco if you are underage – this includes shisha that contains tobacco
  • It is illegal for adults to buy you tobacco products if you are under 18
  • The police can confiscate cigarettes from you if you are under 16
  • It is illegal to smoke in the car with a child present
Cigarette packet


Shisha, also known as bubble, waterpipe, hookah, narghile or hubble, is a way of smoking tobacco via a tube connected to a bowl of water or other liquid. Shisha usually contains tobacco, with the same risks as cigarette smoking, as well as containing the addictive substance nicotine.

The World Health Organisation suggests that smoking shisha for one hour is as harmful as smoking 100+ cigarettes. It is therefore a myth that water in the shisha bowl makes the tobacco less dangerous. Tobacco-free shisha is also unsafe. It produces carbon monoxide and other toxins, harmful to your health.

If you want help to quit, please contact your local smoking cessation service, speak to your GP, or for more information visit the BHF.

Smokeless Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms including: chewing tobacco, snuff and dissolvable tobacco. Many people believe, incorrectly, that smokeless tobacco is safe. But it still contains harmful chemicals which can contribute to significant health risks including cancer, heart disease and stroke. Smokeless tobacco can also lead to nicotine addiction.