Smoking is possibly amongst the top 5 health hazards of the century. It was introduced as a recreational activity, and when cigarettes first came to the market, women smoked more than men. It was a couple of decades before studies started coming in that alerted the common man to the hazards of tar and nicotine, amongst other pollutants in cigarette smoke. Filters were introduced, and the tobacco industry lobbied to hell and back, fighting to protect the ‘ does not kill’ image of cigarettes they were investing millions of dollars into. But facts will be facts, and they will surface one day or the other. Not soon enough, we realized injurious implications cigarette smoking had on our teeth, our weight, our hearts, our digestion, and most importantly, on our lungs.

Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause an estimated average of 438,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. Of these premature deaths:

40 percent are from cancer. Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

35 percent are from heart disease and stroke.

25 percent are from lung disease. This includes chronic lung diseases, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.


The following list should persuade you to quit right here, right now.

The rewards of quitting smoking are tremendous, and they begin almost immediately. Below we list some of the most compelling ones. Take a look and decide if an addictive hobby really is worth all the damage to your health. After all, YOLO.

Immediately after quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure, which is abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal.

Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide, which reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, begins to decline.

Within a few weeks, circulation improves, you don’t produce as much phlegm, and you don’t cough or wheeze as often.

The workload on the heart is decreased and cardiac function is improved.

Food tastes better, and your sense of smell returns to normal.

Everyday activities no longer leave you out of breath.

Within several months of quitting, you experience significant improvements in lung function.

In one year, your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke is halved.

In five years, many kinds of cancer, including lung, larynx, mouth, stomach, cervix, bladder, show decline in risk, and that decline approaches the risk of someone who has never smoked.

Within 10 to 15 years, risk of lung disease, including bronchitis and emphysema, are decreased.


 image: healthy lungs vs. lungs affected by smoking.


Conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, thyroid conditions, hearing loss, dementia, and osteoporosis are positively affected.

Nerve endings in the mouth and nose begin to regenerate, improving taste and smell.

Medications may work better, enabling some to be taken in decreased doses.

If you’re taking birth control pills, quitting smoking will decrease your chance of heart attack and stroke due to clotting.

You’ll have decreased risk for impotence and infertility.

If you’re pregnant, you’ll protect your unborn child from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and low birth weight.

Years will be added to your life: people who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness.


Smoking is an addiction, much like that of drugs. So, it goes without saying that it is easier said than done. However, with a strong support system at hand, and adequate resources, this difficult task will become more manageable. Making the decision to kick this particular habit is half the battle. The 3 important milestones in quitting are 1) getting ready to quit, 2) quitting, and 3) adhering to the non-smoking life style.

A number of techniques are available to assist people who want to quit, including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), behavioral modification, self-help literature, and prescription medications.

Currently, three forms of nicotine replacement therapy are available over the counter: nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and nicotine lozenges, while two forms are available by prescription, an inhaler and a nasal spray.

Some people also try to quit cold turkey, that is, they suddenly give it up. While 90% people attempt to quit smoking this particular way, less than 8% manage to keep it that way. Relapse is common by quitting suddenly, and so it is beneficial to have a plan in place.

No matter which method you choose, an important part of quitting is to build the quit plan that works for you. Pick a quit date that gives you time to prepare without losing your motivation. Tell friends and family that you are quitting. Get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays from your home, work, and car. Figure out your smoking triggers, and decide how you’re going to deal with them.

Dr. Annie

Physician, mom and wife

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