The 40% of gay and lesbian community who smoke are being encouraged to kick the habit on this year’s No Smoking Day next Wednesday.

Two million smokers are expected to try to get off the cigarettes on March 14th.

With a ban on smoking in bars and other public places coming into force at the start of July, anti-smoking organisations are confident that record numbers will try to rid themselves of the habit in 2007.

Will Nutland, Head of Health Promotion of the Terrence Higgins Trust said:

“The findings from the 2005 gay men’s sex survey show us that smoking is more common amongst gay men compared with the rest of the population.

“This difference is most marked amongst gay men between 16 and 19 years of age.

“As such, general population smoking cessation programmes should be attempting to over serve gay and bisexual men.”

The theme of this year’s event is Make a Fresh Start, with the London-based charity No Smoking Day’s organisers focusing on the immediate benefits of quitting.

They include:

Improving your smile; smoking causes yellow teeth, gum disease and bad breath.

Smoking can create hormonal imbalances which decrease libido – giving up smoking could improve your sex life!

Smoking cuts the airflow to your skin leaving it grey and dull. Giving up will bring back your healthy glow within days.

Wave goodbye to 20 a day and save yourself £35 a week or £1,820 a year.

The charity says that benefits of quitting start right away, within just 2 days of stopping you’ll start to have more energy and feel fitter.

Smoking kills over 112,000 people in the UK each year, making it the country’s biggest preventable killer.

The gay, lesbian and bisexual people are twice as likely to smoke than straight men and women and tend to start smoking at an earlier age than heterosexuals.

Approximately half of all smokers will die as a result of their addiction.

Ben Youdan, Chief Executive of the charity No Smoking Day said:

“No Smoking Day is the ideal opportunity to quit smoking and significantly improve the quality of your life.

“Why not make a fresh start and contact your local stop smoking service for help and support.”

The No Smoking Day charity is funded by a coalition of government and voluntary sectors organisations, and is now in its 24th year.

Organisers say that by contacting your local NHS stop smoking service, you are four times more likely to succeed in your quit attempt.

To find out where your local stop smoking service is log onto www.nosmokingday.org.uk or call 0800 169 0 169