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Quitting Smoking - Why Quit?

If you're reading this, you may be thinking about quitting smoking or making a plan to quit. Or maybe you have already tried to quit a few times. You probably already know that smoking is bad for your health and that quitting will reduce your risk of getting a disease related to smoking, such as heart or lung disease.

If you continue to smoke, there is a 1 out of 2 chance that you will die earlier because of smoking. Smokers, on average, die 13 to 14 years sooner than people like them who are not smokers.4 If you quit, most of your risk for having a heart attack or getting cancer goes away. The sooner you quit, the more you reduce your risks.

Everyone who uses tobacco would benefit from quitting. When you quit smoking—no matter how old you are—you will decrease your risk of:

  • Early death. Use this Interactive Tool: How Does Smoking Affect Your Lifespan?
  • Heart attack and stroke. Quitting can cut your risk of heart attack in half within 2 years.
  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases.
  • Other cancers. After you quit, your risk for developing cancers of the voice box (larynx), mouth, throat, esophagus, intestines, bladder, kidney, and pancreas gradually declines.
  • Sexual and reproductive problems.
  • Pregnancy problems. Women who smoke during pregnancy have a higher risk of having their babies early and having babies that have a low birth weight.

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One Woman's Story:

Nancy was working as a nurse and was exposed to someone who had a bad case of pneumonia. As a precaution, Nancy was checked for pneumonia. The X-ray revealed that she didn't have pneumonia—but her lungs did show early signs of emphysema. "It scared the daylights out of me. ... I really made myself focus on the future of my life. I want to be skiing when I'm 70. I don't want an oxygen tank."-Nancy, 54

Read more about Nancy and how she quit smoking.

In addition to reducing your risk of diseases in the future, you will notice some benefits right away after you stop smoking. Your shortness of breath, energy, and asthma symptoms will likely get better within the first 2 to 4 weeks after you quit. (But don't be surprised if you cough more in the first week after you quit, as your lungs try to clear themselves.)

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