Reduced cancer risk, reduced risk of hypertension, smoother skin, hip fracture risk reduction and more
The benefits of quitting smoking have been scientifically proven to be much more than what many smokers care to imagine. Even though overall cigarette smoking results in some permanent health damage, there are still many benefits that are derived from the immediate cessation of smoking.
In as much as there are millions more people who start to smoke each year worldwide, there are on the other hand millions more who also make a decision to quit smoking using different methods. Once an individual stops smoking there is an immediate marked improvement in health and quality of life. Biologically, the human body has an amazing ability to restore itself. This is what brings about the health benefits of quitting smoking.
It is however necessary to note that smoking cessation benefits are not limited only to health. In fact there are three identifiable areas of benefit when we quit smoking. These are namely
- Health Benefits
- Socioeconomic Benefits
- Environmental Benefits
Health Benefits Of Quitting Smoking
The health benefits of stopping smoking can be said to be the ones closer to home for an individual who has just quit smoking. These are more realized and experienced first hand at a personal level more than the other benefits mentioned below in detail. As pointed out in the section on the dangers of smoking within this website, smoking is extremely harmful to the health of the individual and society at large.
As shown in the benefits of quitting smoking timeline below, there are some immediate benefits that accrue to an individual within hours of quitting smoking. These build up over a period of time over many years to come.
It is necessary to note that overcoming dependency is an important benefit of smoking cessation. Nicotine dependency is the reason why people cannot stop smoking. Quitting smoking is a bold step to force the body to cease dependency on nicotine. This has psychological benefits to the individual and those around them.
Longer life expectancy
By quitting smoking studies show that individuals increase their length of life. In this case it matters when the decision to stop smoking is taken. The sooner the better in terms of the overall longevity benefit. According to studies by the American Cancer Society (ACS), individuals who quit earlier in life increase their life expectancy far more than those who elect to quit later in life.
For an example, the benefit of smoking cessation at age 35 years is an additional 8.5 years for men and about 7.7 years for women. An individual who quits smoking at the age of 55 will earn themselves some 4.8 years more of life for men and some 5.6 years for women compared to if they hadn’t stopped smoking.
Reduced cancer risk
One of the leading types of cancer associated with cigarette smoking is lung cancer. According to statistics as many as 90% of all lung cancer cases are smoking related. The benefits of quitting smoking include the drastically reduced risk of lung cancer. The lungs are given an opportunity to gradually recover from the effects of nicotine and tar in the lung linings.
The risk of other cancers is also reduced. This includes cervical cancer in women. There is a correlation between smoking and cervical cancer. There is also skin cancer and even throat cancer and a whole host of other cancers averted that might otherwise occur due to smoking. Cigarette ingredients include up to about 6 or more carcinogens. These are cancer causing substances contained in cigarettes.
Reduce risk of low birth weight babies
This particularly applies to women. Smoking while pregnant is a recipe for total disaster. As this dedicated page on smoking during pregnancy will show, low birth weight is a common problem associated with mothers-to-be who smoke. By stopping smoking, pregnant women or mothers to be will enjoy a healthier life for their babies as well as themselves. Tobacco use in pregnancy will even lead to stillbirth, SIDS and growth retardation in affected children.
Even when a pregnant woman decides to stop smoking late sometime into the pregnancy this is far much better than not stopping at all. There are benefits to the pregnancy as well as to the mother to be.
The Benefits Of Quitting Smoking Timeline
- 20 minutes later – reduction in blood pressure and heart rate.
- 12 hours later – oxygen levels in bloodstream raises to normal, carbon monoxide drops
- 2 weeks to 3 months later – risk of heart attack falls, improved blood circulation, improved lung function
- 1 to 9 months later – decreased sinus congestion, fatigue, breadth shortness , coughing
- 1 year later – 50% decrease in coronary heart disease risk
- After 10 years – drop in lung cancer risk by 50%, drop in cancer of mouth risk, throat, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, bladder and ulcers
- 5 to 15 years later – stroke risk reduced to same as those who have never smoked
- Beyond 15 years – coronary heart disease risk similar to those who don’t smoke so is risk of death
Later life hip fracture risk reduction
According to studies individuals who smoke are at greater risk of suffering hip fracture in their 60s compared to individuals who do not smoke. According to Harvard University that did the study with the assistance of the National Institutes of Health there is a 17% reduction in this risk as a result of stopping smoking.
In fact there is increased mortality amongst the elderly due to hip fractures. Therefore this becomes a real tangible benefit of quitting smoking even though this is likely to be enjoyed some 10 or so years after stopping smoking. This means there is a 10 year leg required for this particular benefit to take root.
Reduced risk of heart disease and hypertension
The benefits of quitting smoking from a health perspective further include a reduced risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. It has been established that nicotine is responsible for a higher presence of bad cholesterol known as LDL in the bloodstream.
This contributes to plaque build-up in the arteries which in turn results in high blood pressure due to narrowed vessels and a risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. There is therefore a clear link between smoking and heart disease. There is also an association between smoking and diabetes whose risk is also reduced through stopping smoking.
There are other numerous health and lifestyle benefits that are associated with quitting smoking tobacco and tobacco use in general. Apart from the elimination of excessive production of sputum, shortness of breath is also eliminated including persistent cough. Food will also taste better as the sense of smell and taste is improved.
Other benefits of quitting smoking :- reduced risk of peptic ulcer disease, reduced stroke risk, reduced risk of respiratory disease, smoother skin, get rid of bad breath, better sexual libido, better fertility, overall better energy levels, whiter teeth (reduced risk of periodontal disease)
Socio-economic Benefits Of Quitting Smoking
Smoking cessation also brings along benefits to the larger community beyond the quitting individual’s own sphere. To begin with stopping smoking reduces or altogether immediately eliminates overall exposure to secondhand smoke or passive smoking as well as thirdhand smoke. This passive smoking has negative health implications to people who do not smoke who might share living space with a smoker.
Some social researchers have pointed out that by reducing overall smoking prevalence there is an indirect increase in income spent at household level in certain parts of the world. In China, for example, as much as 60% of personal income can be spent on cigarettes in a country with has as many as 300 million smokers.
Smoking cessation also reduces work abseentism a perennial problem associated with smokers. They absent themselves from work due to short illnesses as a result of a weakened immune system and so on. This is a loss to the total economy at a household, community and national level.
Also related to this benefit of quitting smoking is yet another which is reduced tax payer expenditure on health care due to overall reduced smoking prevalence. The UK government through the NHS, for example, spends up to US$2 billion each year on smoking related expenditures from treatment to anti-smoking campaigns.
Environmental Benefits Of Quitting Smoking
In as much as this might be far away from the mind and thoughts of many a quitting individual there is an indirect benefit of stopping smoking to the environment. Cigarettes are made from trees. This is clear when one considers cigarette manufacture.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U. S. Bureau of Census as many as 5.5 Trillion cigarettes were produced in 2005 world wide. Less cigarettes consumed mean less trees cut down for cigarette manufacture as well as for growing the tobacco plant.
According to The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup cigarette filters, tips, and tobacco packaging accounted for 38% of worldwide debris in 2007 this was up from 30.4% in 2005. Cigarette butt litter is a real problem and an ongoing danger to the environment. You may read more in detail about this problem by going to Cigarettelitter.org