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.
- 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.
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
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.)
There are other benefits to quitting:
- You will reduce the health risks for your family members caused by secondhand smoke when you quit smoking.
- Your kids will be less likely to start smoking. If your teen already smokes, he or she is more likely to quit smoking if you quit.5
- Underweight babies and problem pregnancies are less likely in women who quit smoking.
Natural, low-tar, and low-nicotine "light" cigarettes are not any safer to smoke than regular cigarettes. Do not be misled into thinking that these products are any better for you. They are not.
Why quit using cigars, pipes, or chewing tobacco?
- Even if you think that you don't inhale the smoke from a pipe or cigar, you are at greater risk for disease. Quitting reduces these risks in much the same way as in quitting cigarettes.
- Using smokeless tobacco ("chew") or snuff ("dip" or "rub") gives you a higher risk of mouth cancer, gum disease, and tooth loss.
For teens: Why quit now?
Avoiding diseases caused by smoking and being in control of your life are good reasons for teens to quit.
If you are a teen and you smoke, chew tobacco, or use snuff, you probably already know that tobacco is bad for you. If you are like most teens, you intend to quit at some point, but you may not feel it's very important to quit now. But the longer you use tobacco, the greater your risk for becoming addicted to it. After you're hooked, it's even harder to quit.