Benefits of quitting tobacco
Secondhand smoke; Cigarette smoking - quitting; Tobacco cessation; Smoking and smokeless tobacco - quitting; Why you should quit smoking
If you smoke, you should quit. But quitting can be hard. Most people who have quit smoking have tried at least once, without success, in the past. View any past attempts to quit as a learning experience, not a failure.
There are many reasons to quit using tobacco. Long-term use of tobacco can increase your risk of many serious health problems.
THE BENEFITS OF QUITTING
You may enjoy the following when you quit smoking.
- Your breath, clothes, and hair will smell better.
- Your sense of smell will return. Food will taste better.
- Your fingers and fingernails will slowly appear less yellow.
- Your stained teeth may slowly become whiter.
- Your children will be healthier and will be less likely to start smoking.
- It will be easier and cheaper to find an apartment or hotel room.
- You may have an easier time getting a job.
- Friends may be more willing to be in your car or home.
- It may be easier to find a date. Many people do not smoke and do not like to be around people who smoke.
- You will save money. If you smoke a pack a day, you spend about $2000 a year on cigarettes.
Some health benefits begin almost immediately. Every week, month, and year without tobacco further improves your health.
- Within 20 minutes of quitting: Your blood pressure and heart rate drop to normal.
- Within 12 hours of quitting: Your blood carbon monoxide level drops to normal.
- Within 2 weeks to 3 months of quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
- Within 1 to 9 months of quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Your lungs and airways are more able to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
- Within 1 year of quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone still using tobacco. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
- Within 5 years of quitting: Your risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancers are reduced by half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.
- Within 10 years of quitting: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about one half that of a person who still smokes.
- Within 15 years of quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.
Other health benefits of quitting smoking include:
- Lower chance of blood clots in the legs, which may travel to the lungs
- Lower risk of erectile dysfunction
- Fewer problems during pregnancy, such as babies born at low birth weight, premature labor, miscarriage, and cleft lip
- Lower risk of infertility due to damaged sperm
- Healthier teeth, gums, and skin
Infants and children who you live with will have:
- Asthma that is easier to control
- Fewer visits to the emergency room
- Fewer colds, ear infections, and pneumonia
- Reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
MAKING THE DECISION
Like any addiction, quitting tobacco is difficult, especially if you do it alone. There are a lot of ways to quit smoking and many resources to help you. Talk to your health care provider about nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation medicines.
If you join smoking cessation programs, you have a much better chance of success. Such programs are offered by hospitals, health departments, community centers, and work sites.
You probably know by now that smoking damages your lungs, raising your risk for bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer. And, you're probably well aware that lighting up also puts you at risk for many different types of cancers, as well as eye disease like cataracts and premature wrinkles, you know why you shouldn't smoke, it's just the quitting part you can't seem to get past. Let's talk about some helpful tips to help you quit smoking, for good this time. It's a familiar story, one that plays out over and over again among smokers. You vow to quit, and you have every intention of doing it, and then the cravings hit. And you can't think about anything but having a cigarette. You get irritable, and you start putting on weight. You think, Just one cigarette wouldn't hurt, would it? And then, before you know it, you're smoking again. Most smokers have tried to quit, and failed, several times. Even if you've failed before, you can still succeed at quitting. Many people have. You just need to find the technique that works for you. So, here are a few tips that can help. First, set a quit date. Write it down on your calendar and tell a few friends, so you'll be too embarrassed to back out. Before your quit date, throw out every cigarette in your house, car, and office. Also toss every ashtray, lighter, and anything else you need to smoke. Wash your clothes and clean your furniture so you won't have that smoky smell hanging around your house. Next, call your doctor. Ask about smoking cessation programs in your area. Also learn about tools that can help you quit, like medicines that reduce the urge to smoke, and nicotine replacement gums, lozenges, patches, and sprays. And then, plan what you'll do instead of smoking. If you smoke with your morning cup of coffee, drink tea or go for a walk instead. If you need a cigarette to keep your mouth busy, try chewing sugarless gum or nibble on a carrot stick. Stick to places where smoking isn't allowed, like smoke-free restaurants. And finally, reward yourself for not smoking. Put all that money that you would have spent on cigarettes into a jar. And once you've collected enough money, use it to take a trip or buy something you've wanted for a long time. Don't get discouraged. Quitting smoking isn't easy. If it were, everyone would have done it by now. Be persistent, reward yourself for the progress you've made, and keep at it until you finally conquer the urge to smoke.
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Last reviewed on: 9/29/2019
Reviewed by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.