Recent statistics indicate that over 46 million Americans still smoke despite widespread knowledge that tobacco use is a leading cause of disease and premature death. However, of these, almost four out of every five would like to quit. Why don’t they? Most smokers find smoking to be pleasurable. In addition, nicotine is one of the most addicting drugs around. Being addicted does not mean that it is impossible to stop smoking, but it does mean that there are powerful urges and needs that have to be overcome in order to do so. Many ex-smokers say quitting was the hardest thing they ever had to do. If they were able to do it, so can you, your friend, or family member. Let’s look at some of the reasons to quit smoking. In regular or heavy smokers, stopping smoking can produce almost immediate beneficial effects.
However, the benefits derived from long-term cessation have the greatest positive impact on health:
- Within twenty minutes of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop to a more normal level.
- Twelve hours after quitting, carbon monoxide and nicotine related to smoking is eliminated from the body.
- A few months after quitting, the senses of taste and smell improve and breathing comes more easily with less coughing.
- By one year of quitting, the additional risk imposed by cigarette smoking on the development of heart disease is cut in half.
- Five years after quitting the risk of stroke reverts to that of a person who
has never smoked. The risk of developing cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
- Ten years after quitting the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.
- Fifteen years after quitting the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker.
Along with the health benefits, wouldn’t it be nice not to worry about where and when you can light up legally or if you are offending someone? Wouldn’t it be nice to have the money spent on cigarettes to use for something else?
Those are a few of the personal reasons for quitting. But what about the impact of smoking on others? It is now well known that even a little second-hand smoke is dangerous. Second-hand smoke is linked to the development of certain cancers, breathing problems, and heart disease in non-smokers. People who breathe second-hand smoke get colds and flu more easily. Children who breathe second-hand smoke are much more likely to develop asthma and are more likely to have ear and lung infections, including pneumonia. It is now recognized that pregnant women who smoke or breathe second-hand smoke are more likely to have stillbirths, low birth weight babies, and babies who die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If that’s not enough rationale to convince you to quit smoking, consider that there are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Some of them are also in wood varnish, the insect poison DDT, nail polish remover, and rat poison.
Setting a quit date and choosing a quitting plan. Many tobacco users choose the day designated as the Great American Smokeout to quit smoking. This year, the American Cancer Society has designated it to be November 17. Click on this link to the American Cancer Society for tips and tools to help you quit or log into your account and send us your question for more suggestions.