Tobacco use can lead to tobacco dependence and other serious health problems. In fact, tobacco use is identified as the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the U.S.
Avoiding all tobacco use (including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs) as well as reducing exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to significant reductions in the risk of developing such negative health outcomes like heart disease, asthma and some cancers.
The number one recommendation is to quit smoking as doing so greatly reduces the risk of developing smoking-related diseases.
The good news is that smokers can and do quit smoking for good. Research has shown that since 2002, there are more people identifying as former smokers than current smokers
When deciding to quit smoking, it’s important to acknowledge that this can be a long and hard process. Even more so, staying tobacco-free is the longest and most important part of it as every day, you must decide to not smoke.
According to the American Heart Association, here are some of the health benefits of quitting smoking over time:
- 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
- A few days after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your blood circulation improves and your lung function increases
- 1 to 12 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease and the tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of your lungs start to regain their normal function
- 1 to 2 years after quitting, your risk of having a heart attack drops dramatically
- 5 to 10 years after quitting, your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and voice box is cut in half and your risk of having a stroke also decreases.
- Quitting lowers your risk of other cancers including cancers of the stomach, cervix and colon. It also lowers your risk of diabetes and helps your blood vessels work better.
There are also immediate benefits to quitting smoking. Some of these include:
- Saving more money
- Food starts to taste better
- Your sense of smell returns to normal
- Your breath, hair and clothes start to smell better
- Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing
For more information on deciding to quit smoking, visit the following website: Deciding to Quit; Making a Plan
If you’re interested in Chicago-area smoking cessation resources. The following places may be worth looking into:
- The Respiratory Health Association’s Courage to Quit (this is an adult tobacco cessation program that offers information, skill-building and support to help participants achieve their smoke-free goals).
- The University of Chicago Medicine offers Chicago Stop Smoking Research Project (C-STOP). This is a clinical trial examining stop smoking methods for people who are regular alcohol drinkers.
- BecomeAnEx.org; this is a free online program that helps individuals re-learn what life without smoking is like. It provides participants with personalized quit plans and support from other smokers and ex-smokers.
- Illinois Tobacco Quitline; this is a statewide telephone helpline that is staffed by trained counselors who can provide you with information about quitting and can work with you to develop a quit smoking plan that’s customized to your needs.
- UChicago Medicine’s Courage to Quit (CTQ) program, which offers an individualized and comprehensive approach to helping participants overcome nicotine addiction and quit smoking within 2-3 sessions.
- For a video summary on the benefits of quitting smoking, watch the following: Benefits of Quitting Smoking-CDC
For tips on how to quit smoking from former smokers, watch the following video: Cessation Tips from Former Smokers- CD