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Is Smoking Dragging You Down?

10 reasons to quit smoking beyond the big health threats.

8. You're a danger to others

Secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 50,000 deaths every year. It's no wonder: More than 4,500 separate chemicals are found in a puff of tobacco smoke, and more than 40 of those are known carcinogens.

"It takes very little secondhand smoke to trigger a heart attack or stroke in someone who is predisposed to that condition," Schroeder says. The ingredients in smoke cause platelets, the material in our blood that helps it clot, become sticky. This increases the risk of heart attacks.

"There have been a number of studies to show that when a community goes smoke-free the proportion of heart attacks seen at the hospitals goes down by 20% or 30%," Schroeder says.

 

9. Impact on physical activity

Many smokers report a diminished ability over time to comfortably do things as simple as climbing a set of stairs or enjoying sports activities they once easily took part in such as volleyball or jogging.

According to Schroeder, even young athletes in otherwise top physical condition don't perform as well if they smoke because over time, smoking causes the lungs and heart to work harder.

10. Cost

If you're a smoker, it's no surprise that smoking is downright expensive. The price of a pack of cigarettes varies greatly by location, but Fiore says the average cost is about $5 per pack, and in some states it can be as high as $10 per pack, including federal and state taxes.

"Who today has [that kind of money] that they can put aside this way?" Fiore asks. "If you're in a place where it costs $7 for a pack [of cigarettes], you're approaching $3,000 a year. That's putting aside the fact that the average smoker has three extra sick days a year, is 8% less productive, and has $1,600 in extra health care costs per year," he says. "The annual economic costs [of smoking] are over $200 billion nationally."

And of course, those figures don't capture the toll smoking takes in the long run.

"It's important to think of this not as a bad habit to put aside but as a chronic disease that for almost all smokers needs to be addressed their whole lives," Fiore says. And there's no better time to start that process than now.

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Reviewed on February 01, 2012

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