But knowing about long-term risks may not be enough to nudge you to quit, especially if you're young. It can be hard to feel truly frightened by illnesses that may strike decades later. And quitting smoking is hard. As many as 75%-80% of smokers say they'd like to quit. But it takes the average smoker five to 10 attempts before successfully quitting.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our November-December 2011 issue, we asked James Beckerman, MD, WebMD's heart health expert, for tips on quitting smoking.
Q: I'm finally ready to quit smoking. Do you have any tips for making it easier?
A: We all know that being tobacco-free is essential to a healthy life. In fact, the most recent report from the Surgeon General details how any exposure to tobacco smoke...
For some smokers, it's the little things that motivate quitting. Things like the smell it leaves on your clothes, the way people react when they find out you're a smoker, the stains it leaves on your teeth -- everyday aggravations that can add up to a tipping point to kick the habit.
Here are 10 common daily side effects of smoking that often create the incentive to quit.
1. Smelling like smoke
There's no mistaking the smell of cigarette smoke, and it's not one many people describe favorably.
Steven Schroeder, MD, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California at San Francisco, says that smokers are commonly self-conscious about the smell of smoke on their clothes and in their hair. And the smell of their breath is one of particular sensitivity to most smokers.
"Some of the media campaigns have compared kissing a smoker to licking an ashtray," Schroeder says. Enough said.
2. Sense of smell and taste
Smelling like an ashtray isn't the only impact smoking has on the nose. Smokers also experience a dulling of their senses; smell and taste in particular take a hit when you smoke.
Smokers can't appreciate the taste of many foods as intensely as they did before smoking, but it's really the loss of the sense of smell that diminishes the ability to taste, notes Andrew Spielman, DMD, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at the NYU School of Dentistry. Breathing in the hot fumes of cigarette smoke is toxic to the senses.