Smoking and tobacco: Quit now for maximum benefits
The immediate health benefits of quitting
- Your heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high when smoking, begin to return to normal.
- Within just a few hours of quitting, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood begins to decline. And since carbon monoxide reduces your blood’s ability to carry oxygen, that is a huge benefit.
- Within a few weeks, your circulation will improve, and you will produce less phlegm — so you won’t wheeze and cough as much.
- Within several months, your lung function will greatly improve.
- Within a few years, you will have lowered your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and other chronic ailments.
According to the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, smokers who quit before age 40 reduce their chances of dying prematurely from smoking-related illnesses by about 90 percent, and those who quit between age 45 and 54 reduce their chances by about two-thirds.
Enjoy long-term health benefits, too
And the younger you are when you quit, the better. The U.S National Health Interview Survey also says those who quit between age 25 and 34 live about 10 years longer; those who quit between age 35 and 44 live about 9 years longer; those who quit between age 45 and 54 live about 6 years longer; and those who quit between age 55 and 64 live about 4 years longer.
Smoking is the leading cause of premature preventable death in the United States. Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke cause about 480,000 premature deaths in this country each year, and of those, about 36 percent are from cancer — that’s nearly 173,000 people.
If you’ve never smoked, don’t start
Avoid all tobacco products
Nicotine, a substance naturally found in the tobacco plant, is highly addictive, and cigarettes aren’t the only culprits. When it comes to tobacco, all delivery methods should be avoided, including:
- Smokeless tobacco: Chewing tobacco in any form can cause cancers of the mouth, tongue, cheek, gum, esophagus and pancreas.
- Cigars: Cigar smoke contains higher levels of toxic chemicals than cigarette smoke. Even though the smoke is often not inhaled, smoking cigars can cause cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus and lung.
- Pipes: Pipe smokers don’t usually inhale, either. But that doesn’t stop pipe smoke from increasing the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus.
- Water pipes/hookahs: The smoke from these devices is at least as toxic as smoke from cigarettes.