Most smokers are sick and tired of everyone telling them to quit smoking. I know this because I was a smoker for eight years, and all of my friends and family were smokers as well. We cursed the government every time the taxes were raised and smoking was banned in yet another city. My eyes were opened, however, when I quit smoking one year ago. I was very surprised at how much my quality of life improved after I quit. My biggest fear about quitting was that I would feel lost without my cigarettes. Since I had been a smoker for so long I could not remember what it was like to be a non-smoker. What do non-smokers do during coffee breaks? What do they do when they are stressed out? I had no idea what the answers to these questions were, and that scared me. It didn’t stop me, however, and now I cringe every time I think about picking up a cigarette. Now that I have quit I can point out five good reasons to quit smoking.
1. Quitting restores your health to its previous condition
As you quit smoking your health will gradually improve and your risk of developing smoking related diseases decreases. The first noticeable benefit is an improvement in your sense of taste and smell, which will occur within 48 hours of quitting (Health Canada, Benefits of Quitting). When I was a smoker I refused to believe that there was anything wrong with my sense of smell or taste. I was absolutely amazed to find out that my senses were in fact impaired, and I had spent years missing out on the full range of sweet scents and delightful flavors. Another benefit that occurs after 48 hours is a decreased risk of having a heart attack (Health Canada – Benefits of Quitting).
After 72 hours your lung capacity will increase and breathing will become easier. Two weeks to three months after quitting your lung functioning will increase even more and your circulation will get better. After six months you will notice a decrease in coughing, congestion, shortness of breath and fatigue. You will also experience improved sinuses (Health Canada – Benefits of Quitting). When I quit smoking I actually experienced these benefits after only a month with no smoking. The things I liked the most about this stage included walking up a flight of stairs without losing my breath, no more unexpected and uncontrollable coughing outbursts, and no more hyperventilating while playing sports. I will warn you though that in the beginning you will actually cough more than usual. This is good coughing, however, because your body is starting to clean out your lungs.
After one year with no smoking your chance of having a heart attack caused by smoking is decreased by 50%. Ten years after quitting your chances of developing lung cancer are also decreased by 50%. Finally, after 15 years your chances of dying from a heart attack are the same as a person who never smoked (Health Canada – Benefits of Quitting).
2. Quitting will help you live longer and healthier
When you smoke you increase your chances of developing certain diseases and unpleasant medical conditions. You are specifically at a higher risk of developing:
“¢ 90% of emphysema cases are caused by smoking
“¢ Increased risk of developing asthma
“¢ Smokers are 20 times more likely to die of lung cancer
“¢ Higher chance of developing gum disease
“¢ Smoking is the most common cause of tongue and mouth cancer
“¢ More likely to develop ulcers and recurring ulcers
“¢ May have increased risk of developing chronic bowel disease
“¢ Smoking causes 4 out of 5 cases of cancer of the esophagus
“¢ Smoking can lead to heart attacks and heart disease
“¢ Smoking doubles your chances of contracting psoriasis – a disfiguring red and silver rash
“¢ Your chances of developing cataracts increase as you smoke more
“¢ Ex-smokers are still 50% more likely to develop a cataract than someone who never smoked
(Health Canada – Health Facts)
“¢ Smoking doubles your chances of becoming impotent (Health Canada – Impotence)
3. Quitting can improve your social life
Yes, believe it or not, smoking can affect your social life. First of all, most non-smokers don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke, and whether you notice it or not all smokers smell like smoke after they have a cigarette. I found out about this after I quit smoking and visited the smoking section. Another social downfall of smoking is that it creates yellow stains on your fingers and teeth. This is not too attractive to non-smokers you may wish to date.
Even if all of your friends are smokers who don’t mind the smell and look of your habit you may still experience a social disadvantage. I’m talking about the increasing trend of Canadian cities to enact by-laws prohibiting smoking in public buildings. When I was a smoker my friends and I would never go to certain bars because they were non-smoking. Now that I have quit I love the freedom of going wherever I want and not worrying about whether they allow smoking. If you are currently living in a city that does not prohibit smoking you would still be wise to quit. There are over 300 municipalities in Canada that are in various stages of passing by-laws that will prohibit smoking in public places. More and more cities are restricting where you can smoke every day and your city could be next (Health Canada – 2003 Progress Report).
4. Quitting can save you money
When I was a smoker I spent an average of $150-$200 a month on cigarettes, but no matter how much money you spend on cigarettes it is still money that could be used for something else. A friend of mine quit smoking by promising to buy herself a present every month with the money she saved. She found that she could afford to buy something nice every month, and looking forward to this monthly present kept her from smoking. Smoking is not going to get any cheaper either because the trend right now is to raise the taxes on cigarettes instead of lowering them. The following tax increases have been implemented this year:
Prince Edward Island: Increased taxes by $7.00 per carton
Newfoundland and Labrador: Increased taxes from 13.5 cents to 15 cents a cigarette and from 11 cents to 15 cents per gram on fine-cut tobacco
Nova Scotia: Seems to be raising the taxes by $5.00 per carton a year because they implemented that tax increase in 2002 and 2003
Quebec: Increased taxes by $5.00 per carton
Ontario: No tax increases this year, but last year it was increased by $5.00 per carton
Manitoba: Increased taxes by $2.00 per carton of cigarettes, and from 45% to 60% of the selling price for cigars
Northwest Territories: Increased taxes by $8.80 per carton of cigarettes, and 3 cents per gram on loose tobacco
Yukon: Increased taxes by $8.00 per carton
British Columbia: Increased taxes by $2.00 per carton
New Brunswick: No tax increases this year, but last year it was increased by $9.00 per carton
(Health Canada – 2003 Progress Report)
5. Smoking is no longer trendy
In 1965 smoking was the trendy thing to do and 50% of the population smoked cigarettes. By 2002 the number of smokers had dropped to 21%. Not only are less people smoking, the people who do smoke are also smoking less than they used to. Average cigarette consumption has dropped from an average of 20.6 cigarettes a day in 1985 to 16.4 in 2002 (Health Canada – 2003 Progress Report).
The government has also restricted tobacco companies from advertising in Canada and sponsoring Canadian events. The Tobacco Act, which was enacted in Canada in 1997, contains these restrictions and it will be coming into effect on October 1, 2003. Unfortunately, this act has resulted in the loss of sponsorship for the du Maurier Jazz Festival and the World Stage Festival. Canada has also been taken off the schedule for the 2004 Formula One Grand Prix. On the bright side Imperial Tobacco Canada has announced that it will continue to give money to Canadian arts groups (Gordon). The government has also refused to make exceptions to the law in order to keep these events. They are unwilling to bend the law because they believe it will be very effective in reducing tobacco use (Fox Sports). The fight to reduce tobacco use has also become a global issue. For instance, Canada recently became a signatory to the first international health treaty called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (2003 Progress Report on Tobacco Control).
By quitting smoking you can restore your health, live longer, improve your social life, and save money. If you choose not to quit you may soon find yourself among a small minority of people. Can you think of this many good reasons to keep smoking?
Fox Sports. Canada still hopes to stage GP. foxsportsnews.com. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from http://foxsports.news.com.au/story.0,8659,7280993-23770.html
Gordon, M. (2003, September 5). Tobacco giant to support arts. The Toronto Star. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from http://www.thestar.com/NASApplcs/contentserver?pagename=thestar
Health Canada – Benefits of Quitting. Benefits of Quitting. hc-sc.gc.ca. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/tobacco/quitting/road/benefits.html
Health Canada – Health Facts. hc-sc.gc.ca. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/tobacco/youth/poster.html
Health Canada – Impotence. hc-sc.gc.ca. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/tobacco/facts/health_facts/impotence.html
Health Canada – 2003 Progress Report. The National Strategy: Moving Forward The 2003 Progress Report on Tobacco Control. hc-sc.gc.ca. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/tobacco/quitting/policy/prog03/tobacco.e3.pdf