Health Guides
Get Ready to Quit Smoking SECTION 1 - Get Started (Steps 1 - 4)
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Step 3: Write Down Reasons to Quit Smoking

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To reach your stop-smoking goal, it's important to know your reasons for quitting. When the going gets tough, they'll remind you of why you're working so hard to ditch cigarettes. Some quitters develop smoker's cough or shortness of breath and feel a wake-up call to clear their lungs, open their airways, and improve their health. Others are concerned about the example they set for their children, or the hazards of secondhand smoke for their families. Your reasons for saying no to cigarettes are unique to you, but living longer shows up on most lists.

What's amazing is that quitting yields nearly immediate health benefits. Within minutes of puffing on that last cigarette, your body begins to change in healthy ways:

  • Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal.
  • Within 8 hours your blood level of carbon monoxide drops to normal, and your blood level of oxygen increases to normal.
  • Within 24 hours heart attack risk decreases.
  • Within 48 hours nerve endings begin to grow, and smell and taste sensitivity increases.
  • Within 1 to 9 months coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Risk of lung infection decreases, and overall energy increases.
  • Within 5 years and beyond, lung cancer death rate decreases to almost half that of a pack-a-day smoker. Stroke risk decreases to that of a nonsmoker.

What are your reasons for wanting to quit? Take a few moments to think it over, then add your top 3 reasons to your Breathe Free Pledge. In addition, write your reasons on a small card and carry it in your wallet. Look at it several times a day. Once you quit, take a peek at it whenever you have the urge to light up.