Today marks the 35th annual Great American Smokeout, a day on which an estimated 45 million American smokers are challenged to kick the habit for 24 hours in the hopes that they will quit for good.
Why should you quit?
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., contributing to cancer, heart disease, strokes, and respiratory infections and harming nearly every organ of the body. Half of all continuing smokers will die from a smoking-related illness. In the United States, smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths, and about 8.6 million people suffer from smoking-related lung and heart diseases.
Smoking is linked to higher incidences of cancer of the lungs, mouth, nose, sinuses, larynx, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and acute myeloid leukemia.
Smoking greatly increases the risk of long-term lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD affects the ability to breathe, leads to chronic illness and disability and worsens over time, sometimes becoming fatal.
Heart attacks, strokes, and blood vessel diseases
Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as are non-smokers. Smoking also affects the walls of the vessels that carry blood to the brain, which can trigger strokes.
Blindness and other problems
Smoking increases the risk of macular degeneration, one of the most common sources of blindness in older people. It promotes cataracts and also produces premature wrinkling, gum disease and tooth loss.
Years of life lost due to smoking
Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that adult male smokers lost an average of 13.2 years of life and female smokers lost 14.5 years of life because of smoking. Smoking can also steal your quality of life, limiting activities by making it harder to breathe, get around, exercise, work and play.
The average pack-a-day smoker spends $1,800 per year on cigarettes.
Impact on others’ health
Smoking isn’t just harmful to the smoker’s body – second-hand smoke causes 46,000 heart disease deaths, 3,400 lung cancer deaths, and one million cases of childhood asthma, according to the American Cancer Society.
Ready to put down the habit? Here are some immediate and long-term rewards:
- Breath, hair and clothing smell better
- Stained teeth get whiter
- Yellow fingers and fingernails disappear
- Food tastes better
- Sense of smell returns to normal
- Circulation improves
- Lung function increases, making everyday tasks like climbing stairs, playing with children or doing housework much easier
- Fewer illnesses like colds and the flu
- Lower rates of bronchitis and pneumonia
- Longer lifespan than people who continue to smoke
- Lower risk of diabetes, lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease
These are just a few of the benefits of becoming smoke-free. For more information and resources to help you quit smoking, visit the American Cancer Society website.