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Smoking - Why Quit?

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Smoking - Why Quit?
Summary
  • Giving up cigarettes can be easier if the smoker is aware of the positive effects of quitting.
  • Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals; 43 are known to cause cancer and 2 are radioactive.
  • Smoking causes around 1 in 5 deaths from heart disease. Quitting halves the risk of heart disease within 12 months.
Description

Smoking is the action of inhaling and emitting smoke or a visible vapour whilst burning tobacco. People smoke for many different reasons: peer pressure, social activity or addiction to substances in the tobacco. Giving up cigarettes can be easier if the smoker is aware of the positive effects of quitting.

  • Smoking kills.Smoking is a major cause of death. One in two lifetime smokers will die from their habit. Half of these deaths will occur in middle age.1
  • Cigarettes are poisonous and coat the lungs with tar. Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals; 43 are known to cause cancer and 2 are radioactive2 3
  • Smoking causes emphysema and lung cancer.Emphysema and lung cancer are slow and often fatal diseases that can cause years of suffering. Quitting halves the risk of lung cancer after ten years. Quitting at any age will have immediate health benefits. This applies to people with and without diseases caused by smoking.4
  • Smoking causes bladder cancer. Research shows that smokers are at least 2.5 times more likely than non-smokers to develop bladder cancer. Heavy smokers (>40 per day) have up to 11 times the risk5.
  • Smoking causes around 1 in 5 deaths from heart disease. Quitting halves the risk of heart disease within 12 months6.
  • Smoking can cause premature ageing. Smoking can starve the skin (and other tissues) of oxygen. Dry, grey skin and premature wrinkling around the eyes and mouth are two possible consequences of smoking. Cigarette tar also stains the teeth and fingers7.
  • Smoking reduces fertility in men and women. Impotence and a reduction in sperm quality are possible in men who smoke. Women who smoke take longer to conceive and are more likely to have a miscarriage8.
  • Smoking costs money. Smoking can be an expensive habit. Giving up can be like getting a pay rise.

The following describes the changes in a smoker's body once they quit9.

  • within 2 hours, nicotine starts to exit from the body.
  • within 6 hours, heart beat and blood pressure begin to return to normal.
  • within 24 hours, carbon monoxide is excreted from the body and lung efficiency improves.
  • within 2 days, the ex-smoker starts to feel and smell fresher, tastebuds come alive and the sense of smell returns.
  • within 3 days, the lungs will start to improve and you will be less short of breath.
  • within 4 days, accumulated phlegm loosens in lungs, within 3 months the cilia, the lung's natural cleaning mechanism, will be completely recovered.
  • within 3 weeks, your breathing will improve and your lungs will be working better and exercising will be easier.
  • within 6 weeks, blood flow to the limbs improves, the ex-smoker has more energy, and feels a sense of pride and satisfaction.
  • after 2 months, the lung's cleaning mechanisms are working normally and after 3 months, sperm quality and number will return to normal.
  • after 5 years, risk of sudden death from heart attack is almost the same as that of a non-smoker.
  • after 10-15 years, your risk of death from all causes will be almost identical to that of a non-smoker.
  • Pharmacist's Advice

    Ask your pharmacist for advice. Your Pharmacist:

    1. Can advise you about quitting. They can assist you to understand nicotine addiction and advise you on the impact Smoking has on your health.
    2. Can recommend nicotine replacement therapy to help break the habit. This may include nicotine gum, patches, lozenges or inhalers. See the Anti-smoking Products topic on the Healthpoint.
    3. May be able to refer you to local Smoking cessation services and support groups.
    4. Can give ongoing encouragement and support.
  • Notes

    Organisations & Support Groups

    Australian Cancer Society - (02) 9036 3100 for information about the Quit Programme.


    References

    1. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). National Tobacco Campaign. Quit because you can. (booklet). [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/quitnow/quitbook/.
    2. Daniels, A. Quitting: In the ring with nicotine. Australian Pharmacist 2000 Jan/Feb; 19(1): 12-14.
    3. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). National Tobacco Campaign. Quit because you can. (booklet). [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/quitnow/quitbook/.
    4. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). National Tobacco Campaign. Quit because you can. (booklet). [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/quitnow/quitbook/.
    5. Bladder cancer link to smoking. Australian Doctor 2001 Apr 27; 35.
    6. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). National Tobacco Campaign. Quit because you can. (booklet). [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/quitnow/quitbook/.
    7. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). National Tobacco Campaign. Quit because you can. (booklet). [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/quitnow/quitbook/.
    8. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (Australia). National Tobacco Campaign. Quit because you can. (booklet). [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/pubhlth/quitnow/quitbook/.
    9. Queensland Cancer Fund. The Health Benefits of Quitting. [cited 2002 Nov 1]. Available from: URL: http://www.qldcancer.com.au/Cancer_Info_and_Services/PED/InfoSheets.html.
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