Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health and for the ones you love. Smoking is one of our nation's top causes of early death, but your lungs can begin to heal as soon as you quit. So, if you find yourself reaching for a cigarette when you're stressed or anxious, it's urgent that you realize the cost: over your lifetime, smoking will only add to your stress by taking away your good health. Whatever satisfaction you get from smoking is going to be somewhat short-lived; cigarettes will shorten your life.
The Impact of Smoking on Health
If you want to live a long and healthy life, breaking the nicotine addiction will be very important. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Like a line of tumbling dominoes, one risk creates another. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health.
What are the benefits of quitting smoking?
Quitting smoking has immediate and long term benefits for all ages:
• 20 minutes: Your blood pressure and pulse decrease. The temperature of your hands and feet increases.
• 8 hours: The carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal. Oxygen levels in your blood increase.
• 24 hours: The lungs start cleaning up mucous and tobacco waste
• 48 hours: Your ability to taste and smell starts to return.
• 72 hours: The bronchial tubes (airways) relax and breathing gets easier.
• 2-12 weeks: Your circulation improves.
• 1-9 months: Cilia (tiny hairs) in the lungs regrow, increasing the lung's capacity to handle mucus, clean itself, and reduce infection. Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath also decrease.
• 1 year: Your risk of dying from heart disease is cut to half that of a lifelong smoker's risk.
• 5 years: Your risk of dying from any type of smoking-related cancer (lung, mouth, larynx etc) has substantially decreased
• 10 years: Your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to almost the same rate as that of a lifelong nonsmoker.
• 15 years: Your risk of death from any smoking-related disease has decreased to the rate of a lifelong nonsmoker.
What can I do to stop smoking?
You can do whatever it takes to quit! One day at a time, one hour at a time, you can learn to replace the craving for cigarettes with healthier options. If you slip and have a smoke, you haven't "failed." Instead, you have an opportunity to notice why you did it, and make different choices next time.
Medication and nicotine replacement therapies can be helpful to control your cravings. Talk with your health-care provider or look for a quit-smoking program. Many hospitals and public health departments offer hotlines and group support with trained staff to help you make new habits for a smoke-free life.
Parents, talk with your kids about cigarette smoking. Many people begin their addiction during adolescence and spend years wishing they had never started. Learning to say 'no' to cigarettes is learning to say 'yes' to your good health.