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Should I quit smoking?

Dr. Anita Gupta
Anesthesiology

Absolutely! Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, diabetes, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction. In the United States, smoking is responsible for about one of every five deaths yearly. On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

There are some immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting. Within 20 hours, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Once 1-9 months pass, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. One year of not smoking will cut your risk of coronary heart disease in half. After five years, your chances of getting a stroke are also reduced. The risk of getting lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker, as well as your risk for other cancers (mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix) after 10 years of not smoking. When 15 years pass, the risk of coronary heart disease/heart attacks is that of a nonsmoker’s. Smokers of all ages can see improvement in their health after quitting. Quitting at age 30 gains you almost 10 years of life expectancy while quitting at 40 will gain you 9 years of life expectancy. Quitting at 50 will give you 6 extra years of life expectancy while quitting at 60 gains you 3 years of life expectancy.

Quitting isn’t easy, but it is definitely possible with encouragement and the right resources! You should change your environment by getting rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays around you. You also shouldn’t surround yourself with people who smoke. Explain to them that you are going to quit and want their support. Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. Talk to a health care provider or friend for reassurance. The more help you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Distract yourself from urges to smoke by changing your daily routine. Do enjoyable things to reduce your stress and take care of your body by exercising and drinking a lot of water. There are also some medications that can help you stop smoking, such as bupropion SR (Zyban), nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine patch, nicotine lozenge, and varenicline tartrate (Chantix). Don’t be discouraged! Smoking is a dangerous habit that can impair your body’s functions. It’s never too late to quit!

Stop smoking! You know that you are harming yourself and those around you. The challenge comes down to will power. Remind yourself of all the negative effects of smoking. It stains the teeth, damages the enamel, irritates your gums, teeth, tongue, throat, and can worsen the complications of diabetes. It can decrease your sensitivity to smells and tastes. It dramatically increases your risk of periodontal disease up to 10 times than if you didn't smoke. Smoking causes lung disease, or COPD. Smoking causes oral and lung cancer. There are many positive benefits of quitting. You'll decrease your risk for developing diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, or cancer (including oral cancer). Your doctor and dentist can give you medications, advice, and encouragement. Ask for help. Quit now.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.