In order to bring you the best possible user experience, this site uses Javascript. If you are seeing this message, it is likely that the Javascript option in your browser is disabled. For optimal viewing of this site, please ensure that Javascript is enabled for your browser.
Services Patients & visitors Health library For medical professionals Quality About us
Text Size:  -   +  |  Print Page  |  Email Page

Reasons to consider quitting smoking

One good reason to quit: you'll be healthier
Cigarette smoking has numerous adverse effects on your health. Over 40,000 studies have proven that smoking causes disease and death. Each year, more Americans die from smoking-related diseases than from AIDS, drug abuse, car accidents and murder - COMBINED! An estimated 419,000 Americans die each year from the effects of cigarette smoke.

Cigarette smoking is the major cause of:

  • emphysema
  • lung cancer
  • chronic bronchitis
  • heart disease
  • stroke

Smoking is the principal cause of cancer deaths in the United States and is responsible for a steady increase in cancer mortality rates, despite earlier diagnosis and improved treatments.

Quitting smoking will significantly reduce your risk of contracting the following:

  • Stroke
    • Five to 15 years after quitting, the risk of stroke is reduced to that of those who never smoked.
  • Cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus
    • Five years after quitting, risk is half that of those who continue to smoke.
  • Coronary heart disease
    • One year after quitting, risk is half that of those who keep smoking. After 15 years, risk is equal to that of those who never smoked. For the person who already has coronary heart disease, smoking cessation decreases the mortality risk after a heart attack or bypass surgery.
  • Lung cancer
    • Ten years after quitting, risk may drop to about half that of those who continue smoking.
  • Pancreatic cancer
    • Ten years after quitting, risk is reduced by an undetermined amount.
  • Ulcer
    • Smokers have more peptic ulcers and, when they have an ulcer, are more likely to die from it. After quitting, risk is reduced by an undetermined amount. Smoking cessation also improves the treatment outcome for peptic ulcers.
  • Bladder cancer
    • Within a few years after quitting, risk is half that of those who continue smoking.
  • Cervical Cancer
    • Risk is reduced a few years after quitting.
  • Peripheral artery disease
    • (Particularly gangrene and limb amputation) After quitting, risk is reduced.
  • Osteoporosis
    • Smoking is one of several habits that increase a woman's chances of developing osteoporosis as she ages. One of the reasons may be that smoking generally lowers the age when women experience menopause.

Women smokers who are interested in having a family should know that smoking:

  • Decreases fertility by one-fourth to one-third. Women smokers have a more difficult time conceiving than non-smokers.
  • Increases the chance of the baby having lower birth weight.
  • Increases the chance of having a miscarriage.
  • Increases the chance of premature birth.

Studies show that babies and children who inhale smoke from other people's cigarettes are more likely to have chest colds, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Smoking also interferes with certain types of medication, including:

  • Tagamet and Zantac (H2 blocker medication used to treat stomach acidity/ulcers)
  • Haldol (anti-psychotic medication)
  • Lithium (used for bipolar disorder/manic depression)
  • Niacin (vitamin)
  • Theophyllin (used to treat lung problems)

Some of the health benefits of quitting are immediate, while others take longer, as shown by the following chart:

How long since your last smoke? Health benefits
20 minutes Blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal. Body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal.
8 hours Carbon monoxide level in blood drops. Oxygen level increases to normal.
24 hours Chance of heart attack decreases.
48 hours Nerve endings begin regrowth so sense of smell and taste are enhanced.
72 hours Bronchial tubes relax and lung capacity increases.
2 to 3 months Circulation improves, walking becomes easier and lung function increases up to 30 percent.
1 to 9 months Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease, while the body's overall energy level increases.
5 years Lung cancer death rate for one-pack-a-day smokers decreases.
10 years Precancerous cells are replaced. The lung cancer death rate for former one-pack-a-day smokers approaches the rate of non-smokers.