The short and long-term benefits of quitting tobacco

The short and long-term benefits of quitting tobacco

If you’re a smoker, quitting tobacco is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. The journey to quitting smoking isn’t an easy one, but the health benefits of quitting are significant. Whether you have successfully given up tobacco for just a few weeks, or have been tobacco free for years, there are several short and long-term health benefits of quitting tobacco.


What are the health risks of smoking?

There are many health risks associated with smoking and using tobacco. There is a direct link between smoking cigarettes and coronary heart disease. Smoking also increases the risk of having cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and diabetes. Additionally, for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), smoking increases the risk of dying from this illness.


Why quit?

Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of early death and can also add up to 10 years to a person’s life. Quitting can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, COPD, and cancer. Quitting also has health benefits for people already diagnosed with heart disease or COPD.

Quitting tobacco at a younger age has multiple benefits; however, quitting tobacco improves your health at any age. Even for someone who smoked for several years or was a heavy smoker, the benefits of quitting are considerable.


What are the short-term benefits of quitting tobacco?

There are many benefits of quitting smoking that occur immediately. Right after you quit, your sense of smell becomes normal and food begins to taste better. Doing ordinary activities doesn’t cause you to lose your breath. Additionally, your breath, hair, and clothes all smell better.

In the first year of being tobacco-free, you cough less frequently and have fewer instances of being short of breath. In the first two years, the risk of heart attack decreases significantly. 3 to 6 years after quitting smoking, the added risk of coronary disease drops by half.


What are the long-term benefits of quitting?

Being tobacco free for a longer period has even more health benefits. 5 to 10 years after quitting smoking, your risk of stroke will decrease, and the added risk of cancers of the mouth and throat will drop by half. After 10 years, you will have a lower risk of bladder, esophageal, and kidney cancers.

10 to 15 years after quitting, the added risk of lung cancer will decrease by half. If you’ve been tobacco free for 15 or more years, your risk of coronary heart disease is almost the same as someone who is a non-smoker. After 20 years of quitting, the risk of cancers of the mouth and throat and pancreatic cancer will lower to near the risk of a non-smoker.


How to quit

Unfortunately, there is not one easy, fail-safe way to quit smoking. However, there are several different options that you can try to see what may work for you. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your individual health needs.

  • Medication – Many people quit tobacco with the help of medication.
    • Nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges – available over the counter
    • Nicotine inhalers and nasal sprays – available by prescription
    • Other non-nicotine medications available by prescriptions
  • Counseling – Often combined with medication, counseling can provide individual or group support for quitting.
  • Apps – There are many mobile apps, such as the National Cancer Institute’s app, that can assist with quitting smoking.
  • Cold turkey – Quitting “cold turkey” means stopping smoking immediately and completely. While some say this method has worked for them, usually smokers are more successful when they gradually quit rather than try to stop all at once.

Quitting smoking is a commitment and a challenge, but it is one of the best things you can do for your health. The benefits are both immediate and long-lasting, and can lead to a longer, healthier life. If you’re a smoker, take the next step on your path to quitting today.

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