Smoking is less socially acceptable these days. Most workplaces, shopping malls, theaters and stores prohibit smoking.
Many government entities are enacting laws to ban smoking from all indoor public places, including bars and restaurants. However, despite all these steps, this very expensive habit is still prevalent in society.
Mostly people start smoking as teens, and they are addicted by the time they reach adulthood. There are many different reasons why people smoke. They can start out of curiosity, peer pressure, a desire to fit in with a group or look older and mature, or even to rebel.
It can also be influenced by parental example or used as a means to reduce stress and feel more relaxed. In some countries like the United States, the impact of advertising and media is waning as governments have restricted such practices, but it continues in many parts of the world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 43.8 million Americans smoke. It is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.
Smoking kills more people than obesity, substance abuse, infectious diseases, firearms and traffic accidents.
There are about 600 ingredients in cigarettes that when burned create more than 7,000 chemicals. Some of the most harmful chemicals released in cigarette smoke are nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, lead, benzene, butane, cadmium, hexamine, toluene and lots more.
These chemicals are harmful to the smoker as well as those exposed to secondhand smoke.
This habit is very difficult to break. Even when cutting down on cigarettes, you begin to go into a withdrawal phase and experience a variety of symptoms like headaches, fatigue, irritability and nicotine cravings.
But there are many reasons to quit, not the least of which are improving your health and saving your hard-earned money.
Here are the top 10 reasons why you should quit smoking right now!
1. Triggers Respiratory Problems
Smoking is the most important factor contributing to the development of respiratory disorders, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and tuberculosis (TB).
Both active and passive smokers are at higher risk of respiratory problems. Parental smoking causes or aggravates asthma problems among children. Tobacco smoke can trigger or worsen an attack.
Smoking damages the airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke even damage the minute hairs in the upper airways (cilia).
Also, carbon monoxide in the smoke enters the bloodstream and restricts its oxygen-carrying capacity. This can encourage phlegm and make it harder to breathe.
To keep your lungs healthy and prevent respiratory problems, the best solution is to quit smoking.
2. Increases Risk of Lung Cancer
Cigarette smoking is the primary risk factor for lung cancer. In the U.S., smoking is responsible for about 90 percent of lung cancers.
According to a 2009 report published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, there is a strong relationship between tobacco smoking and risk of lung cancer.
Non-smokers also are at a risk of developing lung cancer, but smokers are almost three times more likely to suffer from it. Women who smoke are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer than men.
At any age, quitting or avoiding secondhand smoke can significantly lower your risk of lung cancer.
3. May Bring on Type-2 Diabetes
Active smoking is associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It may cause insulin resistance, a precursor for diabetes.
It also deteriorates glucose metabolism, which may lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. In addition, it increases the risk of diabetes through a body mass index independent mechanism.
Another study, published in 2012 in the journal Diabetes Care, found that exposure to passive smoke and active smoking are positively and independently associated with the risk of Type 2 diabetes in women.
In addition, women who smoke during pregnancy are at increased risk of gestational diabetes and the baby is at a high risk of developing diabetes later in life.
As diabetes can lead to more health complications, it is better to quit smoking to reduce your chances of developing this disease.
4. Accelerates the Aging Process
Smoking can speed up the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to premature wrinkles, sagging skin, fine lines and age spots. Skin aging is not just restricted to the face. Changes appear all over the body.
The nicotine in cigarettes causes narrowing of the blood vessels, which means less blood flow to the outermost layers of your skin. With reduced blood flow, your skin does not get enough oxygen and important nutrients, such as vitamin A.
Smoking also reduces collagen production that gives skin its firmness and youthful look. In addition, it causes the release of certain enzymes responsible for degrading the skin’s connective tissue and altering the rate of cellular turnover.
Accelerated skin aging may occur after only 10 years of smoking. So, if you started smoking recently, think about your appearance and skin and try to quit as soon as possible.
5. Causes Low Fertility
One of the reasons behind the increasing infertility rate among men and women is smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
According to a 2010 study published in the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, smoking damages men’s sperm and the numbers of germ and somatic cells in developing embryos.
In women, it decreases fertility by lowering the amount of estrogen that their bodies produce. In fact, women who smoke excessively are less likely to conceive as compared to non-smokers.
Female smokers are also more likely to have a miscarriage or give birth to babies with health problems. Plus, smoking can lead to ovulation problems, damage your reproductive organs, damage your eggs and contribute to premature menopause.
Stop smoking to increase your chances of becoming a parent.
6. Speeds Up Mental Decline
Both male and female smokers, with or without a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, experience mental decline in their later years.
The nicotine in cigarettes is harmful to the brain and speeds up the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as compared to people who do not smoke.
In addition, smokers are more likely to develop depression, anxiety disorders or schizophrenia over time as compared to non-smokers.
According to a 2012 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, middle-aged male smokers experienced faster cognitive decline in global cognition and executive function than people who never smoked. Among smokers who have quit smoking for 10 years, there were no adverse effects on cognitive decline.
It is not too late to quit smoking before you start to forget where you keep your cigarettes.
Smokers are more likely to experience vision problems, even vision loss, because of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than those who do not smoke.
In a 2006 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found a strong connection between the risk of both geographic atrophy and choroidal neovascularization and years of cigarette smoking.
They also show an increased risk for AMD in non-smokers exposed to passive smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome.
Cigarette smoke contains arsenic, formaldehyde and ammonia. When these chemicals travel through the bloodstream and reach the delicate tissues of the eye, they damage the structure of the retinal cells.
Moreover, the tar in cigarettes leads to the formation of deposits in the retina, thus marking the start of macular degeneration.
By quitting smoking, you can surely lower the risk of developing AMD and enjoy good eyesight for years.
8. Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
A 2001 study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases journal found that regular smoking is strongly associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), even in patients without a family history of it.
The risk is nearly double for smokers as compared to non-smokers. Additionally, smoking is a major risk factor for osteoporosis and bone fractures.
People who smoke have more gene-encoding protein sequence called the shared epitope in their blood, one of the major genetic risk factors linked to RA. Plus, smoking reduces the effectiveness of drugs prescribed to treat the condition.
To protect your bones and reduce the risk factor for RA or osteoporosis, quit smoking.
9. Delays Wound Healing
Apart from causing many diseases, smoking also gets in the way of the healing process. Smoking contributes to difficulty in healing surgical wounds and bone fractures.
Several compounds in cigarette smoke, such as nicotine, tar, nitric oxide, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and aromatic amines, inhibit healing through the effects of anoxia, hypoxia, vasoconstriction and enzymatic system toxicity.
In 2007, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported that cigarette smoking impairs ligament healing after ligament-repair surgery. Smoking causes decreased macrophage response that causes a delayed or decreased healing response.
The risk of complications from surgical wounds and some fractures not healing doubles for smokers. Smoking damages red blood cells, bone cells and even the white blood cells, which are essential for healing. This can lead to infections in the wound, blood clots and tissue scarring.
10. Chances of A Stroke Triples
Cigarettes contain nicotine as well as other toxic chemicals that significantly increase the risk of heart disease and strokes.
When you smoke, harmful chemicals enter the lungs and then your bloodstream, changing and damaging cells throughout your body. This can cause a blockage of blood flow from the carotid artery to the brain, which can ultimately lead to a stroke.
A stroke can cause paralysis, partial blindness, poor motor and speech skills, and even death.
According to a 2010 study conducted at the University of Maryland General Clinical Research Center, the more you smoke, the higher the risk. In fact, smokers are three times more likely to have a stroke than those who do not smoke.
Well, looking at the side effects of smoking, you will surely think about quitting this habit. First, build up your will power and then look for professional help, family support and even home remedies to help quit smoking.