Is Smoking Dragging You Down?

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on April 21, 2021

If you smoke, you've probably had friends and family ask you to quit. And you probably would like to kick the habit, too.

You already know you’d be healthier as a nonsmoker. It would cut your chances of having many cancers, heart disease, and other serious problems.

But it’s hard to make that change. There are many reasons, from the addiction of nicotine to the daily routines that you always do with a cigarette.

So if you need extra motivation, add these smaller, but still important, reasons to your list.

1. For Your Wallet

All the money that you spend on cigarettes goes up in smoke. Just think what you could do with it if it were back in your bank account.

The total? That depends on your habits. By some estimates, if you smoke a pack a day, you could spend $100,000 or more on cigarettes and lighters. Plus, over the years, you’re likely to have higher health costs due to conditions caused by smoking.

When you quit, your budget gets a break.

2. To Smell Better

If you quit, you (and your home, clothes, and car) would no longer have that ashtray smell. Your own sense of smell would get a boost, too.

Smoking dulls your senses, especially smell and taste.

Some smokers realize that foods don't taste the way they used to. But because it doesn’t happen all at once, it can be hard to notice. Quitting fixes that.

3. Smoother Skin

Skin changes, like a leathery texture and deep wrinkling, are more likely in people who are regular smokers.

Smoking leads to biochemical changes in the body that speed the aging process.

Another classic smoker giveaway is tar staining of the hands and skin from holding cigarettes. Plus, the muscle actions you use to inhale lead to the classic smoker's wrinkles around the mouth.

4. A Better Social Life

If you feel embarrassed that you smoke, you may hold yourself back socially.

Plus, if you’re dating, you’ve probably noticed that smoking is a turnoff for a lot of people, which limits your romantic options.

For men, it also makes a big difference in the bedroom. Smoking makes erection problems a lot more likely because it affects blood vessels, including those that must widen in order for an erection to happen.

5. Fewer Infections

Smoking also makes you more vulnerable to seasonal flus and colds.

Tiny hairs called cilia that line the respiratory tract, including the trachea and bronchial tubes, help protect you.

But one of the toxic effects of cigarette smoke is that it paralyzes the cilia, which erases that protection. That's why smokers have so many more infections.

Within a month of quitting, your cilia start doing their protective role once again.

6. Your Fittest Self

After you quit, it should get easier to do simple things like climbing a set of stairs. You could get back to sports or activities you once loved or always wanted to try, such as volleyball or jogging.

Even if you’re a young athlete who is in top physical condition, smoking will cost you when you compete. Over time, it makes your lungs and heart work harder.

When you kick the habit, you can get back into the game and get after a new personal best, in every area of your life.

Show Sources


Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons: "What surgeons can do to reduce the impact of smoking on surgical outcomes."

Michael Fiore, MD, founder and director, University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

Steven Schroeder, MD, director, Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, University of California, San Francisco.

Andrew Spielman, DMD, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs; professor of basic science and craniofacial biology, NYU College of Dentistry.

Christakis, N. The New England Journal of Medicine, May 22, 2008; vol. 358: pp 2249-2258.

Joyce Wilde, small-business owner and former smoker, Pittsburgh.

American Lung Association: "Secondhand Smoke."

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