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
- 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 $1,800 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 pulse rate drop to normal and the temperature of your hands and feet increases to normal.
- Within 8 hours of quitting: Your blood carbon monoxide levels drop and your blood oxygen levels increase to normal levels.
- Within 24 hours of quitting: Your risk of a sudden heart attack goes down.
- Within 48 hours of quitting: Your nerve endings begin to regrow. Your senses of smell and taste begin to return to normal.
- Within 2 weeks to 3 months of quitting: Your circulation improves. Walking becomes easier. Your lungs work better. Wounds heal more quickly.
- Within 1 to 9 months of quitting: You have more energy. Smoking-related symptoms, such as coughing, nasal congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath improve. You will have fewer illnesses, colds, and asthma attacks. You will gradually no longer be short of breath with everyday activities.
- Within 1 year of quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone still using tobacco.
- Within 5 years of quitting: Your chances of developing lung cancer drop by nearly 50% compared to people who smoke one pack a day. Your risk of mouth cancer is half that of a tobacco user.
- Within 10 years of quitting: Your risk of cancer goes down. Your risk of stroke and lung cancer are now similar to that of someone who never smoked.
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 doctor about nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation medications.
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.
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Parkes GT, Greenhalgh T, Griffin M, Dent R. Effect on smoking quit rate of telling patients their lung age: the Step 2 quit randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2008:336:598-600.
Boffetta P, Straif K. Use of smokeless tobacco and risk of myocardial infarction and stroke: systematic review with meta-analysis. BMJ. 2009;339:b3060. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b3060.
Preventive Services Task Force. Counseling and interventions to prevent tobacco use and tobacco-caused disease in adults and pregnant women. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reaffirmation recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med.2009;150:551-555.
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, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.