We all know smoking can cause heart disease and lung cancer. What people who take up the habit don’t realize is virtually every smoker suffers a wide range of other unintended and unforeseen consequences. Stinky clothes to stained fingernails to gum disease, smoking can negatively impact lives in ways people never imagined.
Fortunately, when you quit smoking with the help of programs like Ashline.org, most of those bad side effects can be reversed. Some are resolved immediately while others take more time. If you want to quit and need some motivation, here are some of the benefits you can experience when you become a nonsmoker.
Multiple health benefits
According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the physical changes that occur once you quit smoking include:
- Within 30 minutes, your blood pressure drops and your heart rate slows.
- After eight hours, your blood oxygen level increases and carbon monoxide levels fall.
- Two days later, eating becomes more enjoyable because your sense of smell and taste improve.
- After three days, your bronchial tubes relax.
- Two weeks later, your lung function, stamina and circulation improve.
- A month after you quit, sinus congestion begins to clear and you will cough less. Overall energy increases.
- After a year, your risk of heart attack is half as much as when you were still smoking.
- Five years later, the risk of stroke and cervical cancer are the same as for a non-smoker. Your risk of mouth, throat, esophageal and bladder cancers are 50 percent less than when you smoked.
- After ten years, the danger of lung cancer is half that of a smoker. Risk of pancreatic cancer is the same as for a non-smoker.
- Fifteen years after you quit, your risk of heart disease and death is about the same as a nonsmoker.
A fatter wallet
A pack a day smoker can save $6 a day. That equates to nearly $200 a month or about $2,200 a year.
In addition, smokers pay more for health, life and even auto and homeowner’s insurance. Annual medical costs are generally substantially higher for smokers. Other extra costs include additional cleaning for upholstery, carpet, clothing and draperies. Over a lifetime, the cost of smoking for an individual could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Brighter smiles and better appearance
Smokers who quit can say goodbye to yellow teeth, a stained tongue and ashtray breath. Better still, the American Dental Association notes smoking causes gum disease, oral cancer and slow healing after dental procedures like implants or extractions. After you quit, those issues disappear. Smoking is also linked to wrinkles and skin problems. Quitting will actually make you look younger. A study at the University of Zurich found quitting can start to reverse the signs of an aging face within two weeks.
Better social life
Because of the negative consequences of smoking and regulations prohibiting smoking in public and private, smokers are often treated as societal outcasts. One leading smoking prevention organization noted that as a smoker, your dating pool is largely limited to other smokers, who make up only about 21 percent of the adult population. As a result, quitting improves your dating outlook.
Healthier friends, family and associates
“By not smoking, you help protect family, friends and co-workers from health risks associated with breathing secondhand smoke,” notes the CDC.
For adults, those risks include heart disease and lung cancer. For babies and children, risks include respiratory infections, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome.
If you are ready to quit, there are people ready to help you. Contact the Arizona Smokers Helpline (ASHLine) at 1-800-55-66-222 for more information.
Wayne Tormala is the Chief of the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease for the Arizona Department of Health Services. Wayne leads a team that focuses on reducing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung disease, cancer, diabetes and asthma. The bureau also provides resources for Arizona’s aging population.