This Mental Health Awareness week (10 – 16 May), Greater Manchester smokers are being encouraged to give quitting a go to feel happier and boost their mood after a challenging year.

Many of us are aware of the physical health risks of smoking but are not aware that smoking can affect mental health.

Stress is often mentioned as a reason to smoke – but evidence shows stopping can be as effective as anti-depressants in reducing depression, anxiety and stress[i]. And according to a new study[ii] it can take just six weeks for quitting smoking to improve mental wellbeing, by reducing anxiety, depression and stress – compared to people who continued to smoke.

New Public Health England (PHE) data[iii] also highlights that smoking is not helping people’s mental health, as it shows smokers have poorer mental wellbeing than non-smokers. The data found smokers scored worse than the general population on every mental wellbeing indicator in both 2019 and 2020.

The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership is encouraging smokers from across the city-region to make a quit attempt during Mental Health Awareness week and highlighting the support available.

It aims to address the commonly held myth that smoking helps people to relax and relieves stress. A temporary sense of relaxation soon leads to a vicious cycle of increased cravings and withdrawal symptoms which actually increase anxiety and tension.

Andrea Crossfield, ‘Making Smoking History’ lead at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Across Greater Manchester record numbers of people are quitting smoking successfully. Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week we’re encouraging people to give quitting a go to improve their mood and mental health. It’s the best thing you can do for your health and wellbeing.

“As we start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and with lockdown restrictions easing, it’s the ideal time to put your health first and quit. The past year has been challenging for everyone and many people have struggled with stress, anxiety and depression. All too often we hear the myth that smoking reduces stress when it actually increases tension and anxiety.

“Quitting smoking can make a big difference to how you feel and we now know that in just a matter of weeks, you can experience better mental health. It might take you a few attempts to quit, but don’t give up. Getting support means you’re three times more like to succeed and finding the right quitting aid for you will help ease your cravings.”

Stewart Lucas, strategic lead of Greater Manchester’s mental health charity Mind, said: “As an ex-smoker myself I am hyper aware of how that strong desire for a cigarette effects your behaviour and your mood. I convinced myself that basing my day around when I could have my next puff was normal behaviour. It is only now, ten years after my last cigarette, that I realise that quitting has benefited my mental health as much as it has my physical health. Therefore, if you are going to do ONE thing for mental health awareness week, do something that will instantly lift your mood and give you back control in your life.”

Top quitting tips to help boost your mood

  1. Download the free Smoke Free app, which provides you with 24/7 support, advice and all the information you need to stop smoking.
  2. Find the right quit support for you. There are lots of ways to quit – with support from your local stop smoking service, stop smoking tools, medication, nicotine replacement therapy and e-cigarettes.
  3. Remember your reasons for quitting – your loved ones, health, to give your bank balance a boost. Write them down and keep them as a reminder to keep going and celebrate your achievements.
  4. Distract yourself – a hobby, puzzles, playing games on your phone, walking, yoga or other relaxation techniques, can help you to manage cravings and keep your hands busy.
  5. Look at how much you’ve saved. It’s a great idea to put the money you would have spent on cigarettes in a jar somewhere you can see it. Watch the money build up and treat yourself to something special.

Visit to find information and details of stop smoking services and support across Greater Manchester or call the NHS Stop Smoking helpline free on 0300 123 1044.


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