Although there are many reasons to quit smoking, probably the biggest motivator to quit is how dangerous smoking is to your health⎯and the health of those around you. Smoking harms nearly every part of your body and is a major cause of many diseases , including cancer, heart disease, emphysema, stroke, aneurysms and bronchitis. Smoking can also cause pneumonia, cataracts, chronic lung diseases, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In all, smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States.
In this section we talk about the dangers of smoking not to scare you, but to help you understand the risk you are taking every time you light a cigarette, and all you have to gain by quitting. The following are some of the many health benefits you can look forward to as a non-smoker:
- Quitting smoking cuts your risk of heart attack in half.
- According to the US Center for Disease Control, men who don’t smoke can look forward to an average of 13.2 more years of life. Women who don’t smoke live an average of 14.5 years longer.
- No matter what your age, people who quit smoking are less likely to die from a smoking-related illness than people who continue smoking. Quitting before age 50 means you will have half the risk of dying in the next 15 years as someone who continues to smoke.
- Cigarette smoking is known to cause at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths, and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths. Quitting will greatly reduce your risk of developing many different types of cancer, including lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and cervical cancer as well as bladder, mouth and throat cancers.
- Cancers only make up about half of smoking-related deaths. If you quit now, you can reduce your risk of other serious diseases linked to smoking, including heart disease (the leading killer of people in the United States), emphysema, stroke, aneurysms, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Smoking has specific dangers to women’s health. For women who are over 35 and use birth control pills quitting is particularly important, because smoking puts them in a high risk group for heart attack, stroke and blood clots in the legs. Quitting will also decrease risk of miscarriage, complications during pregnancy, reduced fertility, having premature and low birth weight infants, and infant death.
- Smoking has been linked to erectile dysfunction in men. However, quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing this condition to the same level as someone who never smoked.
- Quitting will reduce your risk of developing other health problems, such as cataracts, gum disease, hip fractures and bone thinning.
Learn more about the health benefits over time.
When you quit smoking, your risk of stroke decreases steadily. Former smokers have the same stroke risk as nonsmokers after 5 to 15 years.