According to the World Health Organization, over 20% of the global population uses tobacco-based products. Of the world’s population, smoking is much more prevalent in men, with over 36% of the male population being active smokers.
This is a worrisome statistic since tobacco smoking has a high mortality rate of about half of all users. Arguably one of the greatest threats to public health, smoking causes many direct and indirect health risks. Of course, the most detrimental risks are to the smoker, but secondhand smoke can also lead to health risks for those with existing lung conditions or other diseases.
In what follows, we’ll be detailing the health effects of smoking on the body, organs, and systems. Further, we’ll also share several key insights, statistics, and preventative measures for this habit. Finally, we’ll provide helpful and effective recommendations on how to quit smoking.
The Effects of Smoking on the Body
Almost 16 million individuals in the United States are suffering from diseases directly caused by smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some of these diseases include coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and pulmonary disease, such as emphysema.
Smoking can have significant effects on the vascular system throughout the body. It also exacerbates existing conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, mental illness, and autoimmune diseases.
Impacting both the central nervous system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, digestive system, and even the integumentary system (hair, fingers, nails), smoking is a damaging habit in every way.
The following are several common effects that smoking has on the body, both in the interim and long-term:
- Coronary Heart Disease – risk increases by 2-4 times
- Stroke – risk increases by 2-4 times
- Lung Cancer – risk increases by 25 times
- Blood Clots – 23% more likely
- COPD Fatality – 13x more likely
Smoking can affect almost every cell type in the body. It’s safe to say that a smoker that has a family history of cancer has an extremely high likelihood of developing cancer in their lifetime.
Other notable health risks of smoking include blindness, type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction, loss of bone density, colorectal cancer, and gum disease.
Recommendations on How to Quit Smoking
The first step towards quitting the addiction to cigarette smoking is to become informed and educated on the many health risks it poses, both for you and those around you.
Second, it’s important to understand the economic impact that smoking has on personal finances. The cost can be overwhelming depending on the severity of the nicotine addiction, and the sheer number of cigarettes smoked.
Upon becoming informed, educated, and aware of its health and economic impact, it’s up to the smoker to be open and willing to receive professional help while also being motivated and action-oriented toward implementing tools and tactics to make steps towards quitting.
As a last note, it can be quite motivating to know that according to the CDC, smoking is the most preventable cause of death globally. The following are several recommendations on how to quit smoking successfully:
Though smoking is a physical act, the addiction has a significant psychological component.
By seeking professional help through a physician or other health care provider, psychiatrist, therapist, or addiction clinician, smokers can begin to understand on a deeper level the reasons for their addiction to smoking.
Therapy and psychological techniques directed at the benefits of cessation can further increase the likelihood of quitting.
Prescription and non-prescription medication for smoking cessation come in various types. These medications are used to try to eliminate the carcinogens in cigarettes since the main element that is sought is nicotine. This cessation medication is otherwise commonly referred to as nicotine replacement therapy.
Before proceeding with cessation medication, however, it’s important to first consult with your health provider to discuss the different aspects of this prescription medication. The various types of cessation medication options include prescription nicotine via nasal spray or an inhaler or non-prescription nicotine-based products such as patches, gum, or lozenges. In addition, other non-nicotine cessation drugs are available, and your
health care provider can inform you about these options.
Though it may seem unrelated, living an overall healthier lifestyle can be a positive distraction for those with a smoking addiction to nicotine.
One lifestyle intervention that has proven to be most effective is physical activity and exercise. Other lifestyle interventions include eating healthy, meditating to reduce stress, and even seeking out a new social circle.
Though other commonly recommended strategies involved with quitting smoking may be rightfully intended, they should not be considered effective nor appropriate because many of them are quite harmful alternatives.
These commonly recommended strategies that should be avoided include e-cigarettes and other tobacco products marketed as a “less harmful” habit.
The tragedy is the large number of individuals who are addicted to smoking cigarettes and the fact that those individuals are practically guaranteed to have bad health. If they were to stop smoking or, better yet, if they had never started smoking at all, their life would be dramatically healthier.
Thus, the best recommendation is to avoid smoking completely in your life to experience a much more comfortable and healthy existence.