Every year, 500,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses like emphysema and cancer. But statistics and hospital stories aren’t enough for some people to stop smoking. So what will it take for you to put down the cigarettes? Here are 12 reasons to quit now...
You want to quit, but it never seems to be the right time. You’ll wait until after that big exam, or after the holidays, or once your in-laws leave town.
But when it comes to saving your life, there’s no time like the present. Here are 12 reasons to quit now (and they’re pretty compelling):
1. Smokers Die Young
Smoking is the No. 1 leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S.
And it’s not a pleasant way to go. Smokers risk chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer of the mouth, throat and lungs, as well as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
They’re also more prone to high blood pressure, high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, stroke and heart disease.
In fact, a smoker’s risk of dying from a heart attack is 2-4 times greater than in non-smokers.
2. You Stink!
You don’t just smell like cigarettes while you’re smoking... you reek all day. The scent of stale smokes saturates hair, clothes, your vehicle, workplace and home. Smoking also gives you bad breath, and no mint in the world can get rid of the smell of a pack-a-day habit. Kick the habit to reclaim a pleasant aroma.
3. You Have 10 Times More Wrinkles
You can always pick a regular smoker out of a crowd, not just by the stench, but also by her skin. Smoking accelerates aging.
“It inhibits the body’s ability to repair damage caused by the environment,” says Michelle Aszterbaum, M.D., a dermatologist in Newport Beach, Calif.
That means more wrinkles. The damage is more than skin deep: Smokers with prominent wrinkles are five times more likely to suffer from COPD than non-smokers, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
Smokers also have pale, ashen skin and yellowing teeth, fingers and fingernails -- all extremely visible reasons to quit smoking.
4. Your Lungs Are Full of Phlegm and Tar
Smoking causes sticky, black tar to build up in your lungs, which reduces the exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nutrients between the tissues and bloodstream. This hurts your entire body, but you’ll especially feel it in the lungs.
Smokers have a harder time breathing and are more likely to develop painful, chronic coughing because of the increased phlegm.
The good news? If you kick the habit, your lungs can clear some of the tar. Your body begins to heal just 12 hours after your last cigarette, according to the National Cancer Institute.
But it’ll take up to three months for improved lung function and circulation.
5. Smoking Can Cause Depression
Feeling blue lately? Is your outlook on life pessimistic? Smoking is a major cause of depression.
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry followed more than 1,000 people over five years and found that smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to be depressed.
Some smokers turn to cigarettes to ease depression, but they only make it worse. Kick the habit and you may see life sunny-side up.
6. It’s Expensive
You now know smoking burns a big hole in your health and happiness. It’s also taking a wallop out of your wallet.
Depending on where you live, a single pack of cigarettes can cost up to $9; if you smoke a pack a day, that’s almost $3,285 a year.
If you picked up the habit at age 18 and live to age 68, you'll spend almost $164,250 on cigarettes alone. And that doesn’t include the cost of health care bills, extra gum and breath mints. Kick the habit and take several vacations instead!
7. You Could Become Infertile
Infertility and sexual problems are great reasons to quit smoking. Female smokers may have a harder time getting pregnant, and male smokers generally have a low sperm count.
“Smoking appears to accelerate the loss of eggs and reproductive function and may advance the time of menopause by several years,” according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
The society’s study also showed that genetic mutations of sperm may cause infertility. Men who smoke are also at a higher risk for erectile dysfunction.
8. You’ll Have a Difficult Pregnancy
Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to experience life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, where the fertilized egg begins to develop in the slender fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
You’re also 50% more likely to deliver prematurely, according to a National Institutes of Health study.
Smoking can also endanger the health of your baby, dooming it to lifelong health problems before it’s even born.
Toxins from cigarettes travel into the placenta, which cuts oxygen flow to your baby by up to 25%.
Smoking can cause your baby to have a lower birth weight and birth defects, two good reasons to quit smoking, according to the American Lung Association.
9. Your PMS Will Get Worse
Smokers are more than twice as likely to develop premenstrual syndrome (PMS) than non-smokers, according to a 2008 University of Massachusetts study.
We’re not talking about a few cramps and some water retention. Women who began puffing before age 15 reported suffering from severe PMS - backaches, bloating, breast tenderness, acne, severe cramps, headaches, mood swings.
The study found that women who start smoking before 15 years old increase the chance of developing PMS by more than 2-1/2 times.
The habit may affect the levels of several hormones involved in the menstrual cycle, such as estrogen and progesterone, says Edward C. Geehr, M.D., Lifescript’s chief medical officer.
And the likelihood of irregular cycles increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. Smokers on birth-control pills are nearly 50% more likely to have spotting or bleeding.
10. You’re a Bad Influence
Kids imitate their parents. So if you smoke in front of your children, there's a good chance they'll pick up a cigarette. It gives them indirect permission to smoke too.
One study showed that 50% of kids whose parents were smokers thought the habit was “cool;” 55% planned on smoking in the future.
Still not convinced? Smokers’ children are generally less active and develop poor nutrition habits.
11. Second-Hand Smoke Kills
Not only is your smoke annoying to others, it’s killing them too.
Non-smokers breathe in your second-hand smoke, which increases their risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease and other respiratory problems, including shortness of breath, coughing and more phlegm. Children exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.
12. One is the Loneliest Number
It’s the question asked on every roommate form and dating website: Smoker or non-smoker?
You may love your cigs, but they’re putting you on the dark side of one of the world’s greatest social divides.
According to Harvard and UC San Diego research, smokers are increasingly edged out and marginalized by their peers.
A study published in the Australian Medical Journal suggested smokers are far more likely to be dateless.
It may have something to do with the way they smell, their wrinkly, yellowed skin, or the fact that parents don’t want their kids bringing home a smoker.
For more information, check out:
Lifescript's Smoking Cessation Health Center
The American Heart Association
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The National Cancer Institute
The American Cancer Society
1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free telephone counseling service
Online quit plans:
Become an Ex
American Lung Association
Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?
You know you should quit, but do you have a clear game plan of how you'll get it done? Find out if you're really ready to quit smoking once and for all.
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