Smoking

Smoking harms almost every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits for you and your loved ones.

Fast Facts

  • Smoking is responsible for about 1 out of 5 deaths in the U.S.- about 443,000 annually.
  • On average, smokers die 13-14 years earlier than non-smokers.
  • For every person who dies of a smoking-related disease, 20 more suffer with at least one serious illness from smoking.
  • Annually, cigarette smoking costs more than $193 Billion in the U.S.
  • Almost 20% of U.S. adults are current cigarette smokers; and about 20% of high school students are current smokers.
  • Each day, about 1,100 people under 18 become regular smokers (smoking on a daily basis).

Timeline of Changes After You Quit

Immediately The air around you is no longer dangerous to children and other adults.
20 Minutes Your blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal and the temperature of your hands and feet increase to normal.
8 Hours The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal and your oxygen level in your blood increases to normal. Your chance of heart attack is already decreasing.
2 Days Your nerve endings start regrowing and your ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
2-12 Weeks Your circulation and breathing improve and walking becomes easier.
1-9 Months Coughing and sinus congestion decrease; shortness of breath decreases; overall energy increases; and your lungs increase their ability to self-clean and reduce infection. Your headaches and stomachaches caused by smoking start to disappear and your body is better able to fight infections.
1 Year Excess risk of coronary heart disease is HALF that of a smoker.
5 Years Risk of stroke is reduced to that of a non-smoker and risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus is half that of a smoker.
10 Years Your life expectancy is comparable to a non-smoker’s; your lung cancer death rate is about half the rate of a smoker; your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decrease and your precancerous cells are replaced.
15 Years Your risk of coronary heart disease is comparable to that of a non-smoker.

Health Effects of Smoking

Cigarette smoking has been linked to many diseases including multiple cancers, cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions.

Cancer

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death and was among the first diseases causally linked to smoking.
  • Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women.
  • Smoking causes cancers of the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, cervix, kidney, lung, pancreas, and stomach, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Rates of cancers related to cigarette smoking vary widely among members of racial/ethnic groups, but are generally highest in African-American men.

Cardiovascular Disease (Heart & Circulatory System)

  • Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smokers are 24 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.
  • Cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person’s risk for stroke.
  • Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels (arteries). Smokers are more than 10 times as likely as nonsmokers to develop peripheral vascular disease.

Respiratory Disease & Other Effects

  • Cigarette smoking is associated with a tenfold increase in the risk of dying from chronic obstructive lung disease. About 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung diseases are attributable to cigarette smoking.
  • Cigarette smoking has many adverse reproductive and early childhood effects, including an increased risk for infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Postmenopausal women who smoke have lower bone density than women who never smoked. Women who smoke have an increased risk for hip fracture than never smokers.

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 Quitting

If you have tried to quit smoking you know how hard it can be, and nicotine is a very addictive drug. Usually, people make 2 or 3 tries or more, before finally being able to quit- no matter how many times it takes, each time you can learn about what helps and what hurts you.

The 5 Keys to Quitting

  1. Get Ready to Quit: Pick a date to stop smoking, get rid of all cigarettes, ash trays and lighters in your home, car and workplace. Make it a rule to never let someone smoke in your home. Write down why you want to quit and keep this list around as a reminder.
  2. Get Support: Encouragement from your family, friends and coworkers can make all the difference. Studies show you will be more successful when you ask for help- ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes around you.
  3. Learn New Skills & Behaviors: When you get the urge to smoke, try to do something different- talk to a friend, go for a walk, read a book or other stress reducing activities. It’s helpful to plan ahead for how you will deal with triggers or situations that make you want to smoke. Have sugar free gum or candy around to help handle cravings and drink lots of water.
  4. Get Medication & Use It Correctly: There are medications available to help you quit and lessen the urge to smoke. Your health care provider can help you decide what will work best for you- and be sure to talk to them before taking any over-the-counter medications, especially if you’re pregnant or if you have heart problems.
  5. Be Prepared for Relapse: Most people relapse or start smoking again within the first three months after quitting. Don’t get discouraged if this happens! Certain things or situations can increase your chances of smoking again, such as drinking alcohol, being around other smokers, gaining weight, stress, becoming depressed or having more bad moods than usual.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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