The Rewards of Quitting Smoking In a Nutshell

Everyone today knows it's better to quit smoking, that are some significant rewards to quitting smoking. When my parents started smoking in the first half of the 20th century, the world really didn't realize just how harmful smoking would turn out to be. On the contrary, it was seen as something cool, elegant or "grown up" to do. Holding that slender white cylinder in your hand or dangling it from the corner of your mouth while you conversed with friends... blowing out a thin stream of smoke or maybe even a smoke circle or two... what could be cooler?

But in the latter part of the 20th century, we began to hear more and more how harmful smoking could be and the devastating effects it could have on people's health, both those who smoked and those who were around the people who smoked.

When you love someone who smokes, as I did, it's heartbreaking to watch them continue in this addictive habit, despite all the warnings and your beseeching them to quit. The truth is, though, people don't quit for good unless they are truly ready to quit the habit because of their own internal motivation. You have to do it for yourself first, not for your loved ones.

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So, what will help motivate you to stop smoking? Do you believe that it is probably already too late, that nothing you can do at this point will make that much of a difference in your future health? If so, perhaps a few facts will help you look at this issue from a different perspective.

First, A Few Facts About Smoking

When you smoke, the chemicals in the tobacco reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale. Your blood then carries the toxins in those chemicals to every organ in your body. There is no safe amount of cigarette smoke.

In the United States, smoking causes about 443,000 deaths each year, or nearly one in every five deaths. Quitting can help you add years to your life. On average, smokers die 13 years earlier than non-smokers. Take control of your health by quitting (and staying quit). Over time, you will greatly lower your risk of death from lung cancer and other diseases, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • At least 13 other kinds of cancer

After you quit, your body begins to heal within minutes of your last cigarette, and the nicotine leaves your body within days. It's important to remember, though, that as your body starts to repair itself, you may feel worse instead of better. Withdrawal can be difficult, but this is a sign that your body is healing.

Your Benefits Timeline From Quitting Smoking

You will benefit from quitting smoking almost immediately! And those benefits can continue for years to come. Consider this:

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood stream drops to normal
  • Within 3 months, your circulation and lung function improves
  • After 9 months, you will cough less and breathe easier
  • After 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half
  • After 5 years, your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half
  • After 10 years, you are one-half as likely to die from lung cancer, and your risk of larynx or pancreatic cancer decreases
  • After 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker's risk

Although it's important to quit smoking because you are ready to do it for you, remember that in the end, you're not the only one who will benefit when you quit. You will also cut back on dangerous secondhand smoke for your loved ones.

In the United States, about 49,000 deaths are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke - protect your family and set a good example. By quitting, you're showing your family and other young people that a life without cigarettes is not only healthy, but possible.1

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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