Smoking and drinking

You are twice as likely to have a stroke if you smoke.

Smoking causes your arteries to fur up and makes a blood clot more likely. Smokers are also more likely to develop high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke.

The more you smoke, the more this risk increases. So stopping smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.

Public Health England's new campaign raises awareness of the harm smoking does to your whole body and highlight how smoking has a degenerative effect on the body, similar to rot. Watch the new advert here

Many smokers want to quit but aren’t sure how or where to start. You don’t have to go it alone. There are many support services available to make it easier.

NHS Stop Smoking Services offer support:

  • Trained advisers
  • Group and individual sessions
  • Information on giving up, aids to help you, valuable support from others

If you find it difficult to attend, you can still benefit from the wealth of advice and information that these services provide. Find your local service by clicking below:

Stubbed out cigaretteThe NHS Smokefree Helpline can help you discuss the different ways you can give up. Their helpline opening hours are Monday-Friday 9am–8pm and Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm. Call Smokefree on 0800 022 4 332.

The NHS helpline for Scotland is Smokeline, 0800 84 84 84, open seven days a week 8am-10pm. The website is




Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your blood pressure

Binge drinking (more than six units of alcohol within six hours) in particular can cause your blood pressure to increase rapidly which greatly increases the risk of a stroke. 

  • Don’t drink every day or exceed the recommended limits.

Women should not drink more than two to three units of alcohol a day (if you are pregnant, you should not drink at all).

  • Men should have no more than three to four units a day.

A unit of alcohol is a small glass of wine, a single measure of spirits or half a pint of weak beer or lager.

Dry January

Alcohol Concern's Dry January challenges people to take a month out from alcohol and enjoy the benefits of having a break from drinking. It encourages people to stop drinking together for one month from 1st January, and there is a range of support and encouragement available at

Dry January 2015 helps people to see how taking a holiday from alcohol after the Christmas period is beneficial for their wallet, waistline and general health.

Read our factsheets on smoking and alcohol for more information, tips to help you, and other organisations that offer more specific support.

Read our publications:

Smoking and the risk of stroke

Alcohol and stroke

Useful organisations:

Smokefree campaign

Stop smoking Wales


Alcohol Concern

Alcohol Focus Scotland


UK Drug Rehab