There is always time to reverse the damage which smoking has done to your body. It has been proven that quitting smoking at any time will increase your life expectancy, but this will only happen if you have not developed cancer or another serious smoking related disease.
The health benefits of quitting can be realised immediately, with the lungs and your blood pressure showing improvement within the first 24 hours. After three months have passed you can expect increased circulation and you will notice that you are breathing easier. If you make it to five years your risk of having a heart attack will drop to half that of a smoker. After ten years, you can expect your risk of developing lung cancer to be half that of smoker.
Quitting smoking is hard because you become both physically and psychologically dependant on tobacco products. Nicotine is the extremely addictive ingredient in tobacco. It makes you feel calm and satisfied, and the more you smoke, the more you crave it. It isn't long before you need nicotine to feel normal which triggers a vicious cycle of addiction and deterioration of health.
With such dependence it is inevitable that tobacco can become part of your life and daily routine. You start to rely on smoking for a break at work and may smoke when you're angry, happy or sad. It may even become normal for you to smoke without even giving it any thought. These factors together make giving up a difficult process.
Gaining weight is not a direct result of giving up smoking. However, once you are smoke-free you will start to experience an improved sense of taste and smell and an increase in appetite. These factors can entice you to eat more, more often, so it is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals. Out of these, there are 43 known carcinogenic (cancer inducing) chemicals which include nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide along with others such as DDT, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and formaldehyde.
Smoking is extremely detrimental to health and is the cause of over 90% of lung cancer cases in the UK alone. Other areas of the body where it is known to have carcinogenic effects include the pancreas, stomach, liver, kidney, bladder, oesophagus, voice box, throat, lip and mouth.
Smoking also damages blood circulation and the heart, which can lead to conditions such as strokes, heart attacks and coronary heart disease. It also degrades the lungs, causing emphysema, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia.
Will power alone is the most common method of smoking cessation. However, incidences of relapse are high and it is therefore very much the most difficult option.
The medication route can offer those who have tried to give up in the past the most viable route to smoking cessation success with a plethora of options available to choose from. Prescription medications such as Champix, which is taken over the course of 12-weeks, are very effective. Other methods include nicotine replacement therapy, which can take the form of inhalers, patches and gum.
Therapy is often used in addition to any of these methods, providing people with support from a counsellor and other people in a similar situation to themselves. Unmasking the problem and understanding the causes and triggers to your addiction can be invaluable in your goal to quit smoking.
Unless you are suffering from a smoking related disease you will find that the negative effects brought on by smoking can be reversed and, in the majority of cases, return to normal.
Quitting smoking allows any inflammation in your airways to die down. The small hairs, called cilia, which clean the lungs but are paralysed by smoking, begin to work again. Your breathing and exercise capacity will improve and your chances of developing smoking related diseases, such as lung cancer, will slowly decrease.
Becoming pregnant is the perfect time to quit smoking. Breathing in the chemicals contained in tobacco whether by smoking yourself or from second-hand smoke will decrease the amount of oxygen which is being provided to your baby. This could cause your baby to be born underweight and underdeveloped. There will also be a greater risk of cot death and an increased risk of asthma and other breathing problems. There is also a greater chance of a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Second-hand smoke can cause similar damage to the body as that of smoking firsthand. It can impact on lung capacity and increase chances of heart disease and pose. It also poses a particularly serious risk to children as they are still developing. It is advisable to assess your surroundings before exposing other people to the toxic chemicals produced by tobacco smoke.
Smoking bans have been introduced in public places in many cities around the world as the health problems brought on by secondhand smoke are made clearer. It is predominantly the health risk of secondhand smoke to non-smokers that has lead to the decision to limit smoking to private or designated areas.