If you're reading this, you may be thinking about quitting smoking or making a plan to quit. Or maybe you have already tried to quit a few times. You may also already know that smoking is bad for your health and that quitting will reduce your risk of getting a disease related to smoking, such as heart or lung disease. Here are the facts about smoking and your health.
Tobacco use, especially smoking, is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.4 In fact, 1 of every 2 people who continue to smoke will die early because of their smoking.
Everyone who uses tobacco would benefit from quitting. When you quit smoking—no matter how old you are—you will decrease your risk of:
One Woman's Story:
Nancy was working as a nurse and was exposed to someone who had a bad case of pneumonia. As a precaution, Nancy was checked for pneumonia. The X-ray revealed that she didn't have pneumonia—but her lungs did show early signs of emphysema. “It scared the daylights out of me. ... I really made myself focus on the future of my life. I want to be skiing when I'm 70. I don't want an oxygen tank.”—Nancy, 54
Read more about Nancy and how she quit smoking.
In addition to reducing your risk of diseases in the future, you will notice some benefits right away after you stop smoking. Your shortness of breath and asthma symptoms will likely get better within the first 2 to 4 weeks after you quit. (But don't be surprised if you cough more in the first week after you quit, as your lungs try to clear themselves.)
There are other benefits to quitting:
Natural, low-tar, and low-nicotine "light" cigarettes are not any safer to smoke than regular cigarettes. Do not be misled into thinking that these products are any better for you. They are not.
Why quit using cigars, pipes, or chewing tobacco?
You can get lung cancer and cancers of the throat and mouth from using cigars, pipes, or chewing tobacco.
For teens: Why quit now?
Avoiding diseases caused by smoking and being in control of your life are good reasons for teens to quit.
If you are a teen and you smoke, chew tobacco, or use snuff, you probably already know that tobacco is bad for you. If you are like most teens, you intend to quit at some point, but you may not feel it's very important to quit now. But the longer you use tobacco, the greater your risk for becoming addicted to it. After you're hooked, it's even harder to quit.
If you are a parent who is worried about a teen who smokes, see:
- Substance abuse: Dealing with teen substance abuse.