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Smoking Cessation: Why You Should Quit

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable diseases in the United States. Smoking accounts for about 440,000 deaths yearly. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also know as emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis, continually ranks among the leading causes of death in the United States.

If these are not enough reasons to quit smoking, also know that smoking plays a role in all of the following diseases:

Smoking-related diseases
  • Lung cancer
  • Heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke
  • Cancer of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, lips, and tongue
  • Cancer of the pancreas, kidney, bladder, stomach, colon, and liver
  • Peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation)
  • Asthma in children
  • Low birth weight babies, sudden infant death syndrome
  • Early menopause
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cataracts, macular degeneration
  • Peptic ulcer disease (stomach ulcers)
  • Uterine and cervical cancer
  • Premature wrinkles
  • Decreased sense of smell
  • Infertility, impotence

Did you know there are dangerous chemicals in tobacco?

Dangerous chemicals in tobacco smoke include: acetone, mercury, lead, nicotine, cadmium, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, urethane, arsenic, phenol, formaldehyde, and DDT.

Other factoids about women and adolescents and smoking

Women smokers

  • Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer will claim the lives of 41,000 women this year, while 68,000 women will die of lung cancer.
  • Twenty-two percent of US women smoked in 1998.
  • There has been a 600 percent increase in the lung cancer death rate in women since 1950.

Adolescents and smoking

  • Long-term nicotine addiction results primarily from tobacco use during adolescence.
  • Approximately 43 percent of students in high school have used tobacco.
  • The earlier the onset of smoking the more severe nicotine addiction is likely to be.
  • By age 17, 50 percent of smokers have tried to quit and failed. Many regret having started.

Adolescent developmental milestones

  • Establish independence and autonomy
  • Forming a coherent self-identity
  • Adjusting to psychological changes associated with physical maturation
  • Learning about relaxation, pleasure, peer pressure, self-image, curiosity, stress, boredom, self-assertiveness, and rebellion
  • Of adolescents who smoke, 75 percent have one or both parents who smoke

But promising health news when you quit

There is good news when you quit smoking. Quitting smoking today results in both immediate and long-term improvements in health.

When you quit smoking...

After 20 minutes

  • The air is less polluted.
  • Blood pressure and pulse decrease.
  • Temperature of the hands and feet increase.

After 8 hours

  • The carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal.
  • The oxygen levels in the blood increases.

After 24 hours

  • The chance of heart attack decreases.

48 hours

  • Nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine.
  • The ability to taste and smell begins to return.

72 Hours

  • Bronchial tubes relax.

2 weeks to 3 months

  • Circulation improves.
  • Exercise tolerance improves.

1 to 9 months

  • Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath all decrease.
  • Cilia regrow, increasing the ability of the lungs to handle mucous, clean the lungs, and reduce infection.
  • The body’s overall energy level increases.

1 year

  • The excess risk of heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker.

5 years

  • The risk of stroke is reduced to that of nonsmokers.

10 years

  • The risk of lung cancer drops to as little as one-half that of continuing smokers.
  • The incidence of other cancers (e.g., of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas) decreases.

15 years

  • The risk of heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked.
  • The risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked.

How you can quit

  • First and foremost you must decide to quit smoking.
  • Ask for the support of family, friends and coworkers.
  • Have a smoking cessation plan.
  • Set a quit date.
  • Make your home smoke-free.
  • Ask your doctor about medications that can help.
  • Seek assistance, tips, and advice from smoking cessation counselors: call 1-800-784-8669

© 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/2/2007...#8905