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Smoking Cessation Health Center

Is Smoking Dragging You Down?

10 reasons to quit smoking beyond the big health threats.
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2. Sense of smell and taste continued...

Some smokers realize that foods don't taste the way they used to, but the process can be quite gradual, making it difficult to detect. Quitting brings a swift return of the senses.

"I can't tell you how many smokers who have successfully quit come back to the clinic and say eating is a totally different experience," says Michael Fiore, MD, MPH, founder and director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. "The pleasure of eating is dramatically enhanced when smokers quit. And it happens within a few days but can continue for up to three to six months."

3. Premature aging

"One of the chief and significant causes of premature aging of the face is smoking," Fiore says. Skin changes, like leathery skin and deep wrinkling, are more likely in people who are regular smokers.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology, smoking leads to biochemical changes in the body that speed the aging process. For example, smoking deprives the living skin tissue of oxygen by causing constriction of the blood vessels. As a result, blood doesn't get to your organs as easily, and that includes the skin.

Another classic smoker giveaway is tar staining of the hands and skin from holding cigarettes. "Burning cigarette smoke is most apparent around the face and I think that what we sometimes see is staining of the skin from the tars and other deadly toxins in tobacco smoke," Fiore says.

Fiore also points out that the muscle actions required to inhale lead to the classic smoker's wrinkles around the mouth.

4. Social pressures

Schroeder cites a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, which looked at the dynamics of smoking in large social networks as a part of the Framingham Heart Study. The study, which took place during the period between 1971 and 2003, examined smoking behavior and the extent to which groups of widely connected people have an affect on quitting. One of the findings was that smokers have increasingly moved to the fringes of social networks. "Smokers have become marginalized," Schroeder says.

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