The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strongly advises smokers to take proactive steps to quit. According to the US FDA, cigarettes contain four basic components: a paper wrapping, a filter, numerous chemical additives, and tobacco. Of all the tobacco-related deaths that take place annually in the United States, cigarettes account for the lion’s share of death and disease. With every inhalation, smokers expose themselves, and others (secondhand smoke) to some 7000+ chemicals. It is precisely these chemicals that can cause extensive damage to the body’s organs.
Leading Authorities Point to The Dangers of Tobacco Use
Cancer.org lists some of the most dangerous chemicals that are added to cigarettes. These are known as carcinogens. They include the following: nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, ammonia, polonium-210, PAHs, TSNAs, carbon monoxide, benzene, tar, and others. These substances are known to cause cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease, stroke, and organ failure. Contrary to popular opinion, these specific substances are derived from burning tobacco leaves, and are not found in the additives of cigarettes.
If these ingredients are inhaled with every puff of a cigarette, it stands to reason that quitting smoking – irrespective of how hard it is to beat the addiction – is much better in the long-run. Nowadays, a huge contingent of smokers has shifted their focus to smokeless tobacco products, thinking them to be safer than traditional burning cigarettes and cigars. Unfortunately, smokeless tobacco products come with their own set of carcinogens. These include polonium-210, and various types of PAHs, otherwise known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The health risks associated with smokeless tobacco are equally dangerous. There are many cancer-causing agents – carcinogens – in addition to nicotine. Smokeless tobacco products have been proven to cause pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, gum cancer, cheek cancer, tongue cancer, and mouth cancer. Other health problems are also possible suchasbadly-stained teeth, leukoplakia, heart disease, stroke, et al. Therefore, whether an individual is smoking a traditional cigarette, cigar, smokeless tobacco product, chewing tobacco, using snuff, or any other tobacco-related products – dangers exist. Next, we are going to look at what happens when you stop smoking, and how you can mentally prepare yourself for the challenges ahead.
What Are the Effects of Quitting Smoking?
Given the high risks associated with smoking cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, using snuff, or smokeless tobacco products, it stands to reason that quitting is the solution. However, like alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction can prove hard to beat. According to Medical News Today, the most commonly reported effects of quitting smoking are as follows:
- After 1 hour – your heart rate will start to decrease, your blood pressure will drop and your circulatory system will improve.
- After 12 hours – your body will start cleansing itself of dangerous carbon monoxide that is found in the cigarettes and tobacco products. Your body’s carbon monoxide levels will return to normal, and oxygen saturation will start to improve.
- After 1 day – at this point, your risk of having a heart attack decreases. Since smoking is associated with higher risks of heart attack, high cholesterol, and stroke, cessation of smoking begins to turn things around.
- After 2 days – by day number two, your sense of smell and taste starts to return. You will notice scents and flavors that you probably had forgotten even existed.
- After 3 days–the effects of nicotine withdrawal start to weigh heavily on the body at this point in time. You will likely feel anxious, irritable, moody, and craving cigarettes. Other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include headaches, migraines, fatigue, sleep issues, possibly even changes to your appetite. At this juncture, it’s important to stay the course and by the craving.
As time progresses from 1 month, 3 months, 9 months, 1 year +, your body will start to stage a remarkable, perhaps even miraculous comeback. Not only will your body’s circulatory system improve substantially, your lungs will start to heal, with cilia recovering from the cigarette smoke. Your body’s ability to fight infections will improve dramatically, and your blood vessels will begin to dilate once again.
All of this bodes well for improved health and wellness, and longevity. After 10 years of not smoking, a smoker reduces the risk of developing lung cancer by 50%. After 15 years, your risks of heart disease are equivalent to those of a non-smoker. After 20 years, you can compare yourself to any other person who hasn’t smoked before.Your risks of serious diseases and illnesses are dramatically reduced.
In the short-term, there will be sacrifices. Your body doesn’t like the fact that it isn’t being fed the drug called nicotine any more. Once the soothing and calming effect of smoking disappears,people tend to replace thatcraving with food, or other substances. It’s important to focus on the reasons why you are quitting smoking to begin with. Health, wellness, fitness, expense, ostracization, and the overall quality of your life come into play.
Smoking has become taboo in many parts of the world today. It is certainly not as prevalent in the United States and Canada, and across Europe as it once was. Nonetheless, a large portion of the global populace continues to smoke. Public health awareness campaigns have certainly played a part in reducing the number of smokers. It’s better not to light up, because quitting isn’t always as easy as you think.