Quit Smoking to Improve Your Health

Quitting Smoking and Personal Health—
How stopping smoking today can improve your health tomorrow

The known health risks of smoking are staggering. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. According to the Center for Disease Control, smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 438,000 American lives each year (1 of every 5 deaths) and an estimated $167 billion each year in health-care costs. The US Surgeon General has stated, "Smoking cessation (stopping smoking) represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives." Consider these benefits to quitting smoking:

  • People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness.
  • Quitting by age 30 reduces the chance of dying from smoking–related diseases by more than 90 percent.
  • Quitting by age 50 reduces the risk of dying prematurely by 50 percent compared with those who continue to smoke.

Thousands of smokers attempt year after year to quit, unsuccessfully, because of the challenges associated with nicotine withdrawal. There are different methods for quitting—some with serious potential side effects as well. Below are just a few of the different options available for helping to quit smoking.

  • Quit Smoking — (www.smokefree.gov)
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (American Heart Association) —in the form of gums, patches, sprays, inhalers, or lozenges. These are designed to help relieve the physical dependency caused by nicotine addiction, allowing the user to focus on the psychological aspects of quitting.

The positive effects of quitting tobacco use start immediately and continue long after quitting. Short and long term benefits include (courtesy of the NCI):

  • Your blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature, which were abnormally elevated by nicotine, return to normal. Persons taking blood pressure medication should continue doing so until told otherwise by their physician.
  • Your body starts to heal itself. Carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in your blood return to normal.
  • Your chances of having a heart attack decreases.
  • Nerve endings start to regrow. Your ability to taste and smell improves.
  • Your breathing passages (bronchial tubes) relax, lung capacity goes up, and your breathing becomes easier.
  • Your circulation improves and your lungs become stronger, making it easier to increase physical activity.
  • In your lungs, the cilia (hairlike structures on the lining) begin to regrow, increasing the ability of your lungs to handle mucus, clean themselves, and reduce infection. Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease while overall energy levels increase.
  • As a former smoker, your chance of dying from lung cancer is less than it would be if you continued to smoke. Your chance of getting cancer of the throat, bladder, kidney, or pancreas also decreases.