Statistics regarding the risks of smoking are grim. Close to a half million people in the U.S. die each year from tobacco-related causes. Half of those who fail to kick the habit will die from tobacco use. More Americans die from cigarette smoking than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined.
Whether it’s smoked or smokeless, all tobacco poses a health risk. The same is true for e-cigarettes. Once touted as safer than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are now known to contain harmful ingredients like nicotine, fine particles, and compounds linked to lung disease and toxic heavy metals.
Know the Risks
Not only is cigarette smoking linked to many types of cancer, but it can also cause severe damage to the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones. Smoking shortens the lives of women by about 11 years and men by about 12 years.
Smoking is linked to about 80% of all lung cancer deaths, which is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
Cigarette smoking also increases the risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, kidney, cervix, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, and colon, according to American Cancer Society statistics.
Damage to Organs
- Lungs: smoking damages the airways and air sacs in the lungs. Lung function deteriorates as smoking continues. Smoking worsens pneumonia and asthma and can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes bronchitis and emphysema.
- Cardiovascular System: smoking damages the heart and blood vessels, increases plaque deposits in the arteries, and causes high blood pressure, which may lead to heart disease, stroke, or heart attack.
- Circulatory System: smoking may cause peripheral vascular disease (PVD), which is impaired blood flow to the arms and legs, causing leg pain and wounds that fail to heal.
- Reproductive System: female smokers may have more difficulty becoming pregnant, as well as a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, serious bleeding, miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects, low birth-weight babies, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Male smokers have a higher risk of erectile dysfunction and reduced sperm fertility.
See the American Cancer Society website for additional health risks linked to smoking.
Cessation tips include:
- Consider a quit-smoking class or a free app like quitSTART.
- Talk to your doctor about medications that can help ease cravings or depression, and about the effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy.
- Hypnosis can be effective for smoking cessation. Find a certified hypnotherapist in your area.
- Talk to a therapist or join a support group like Nicotine Anonymous.
- Commit to a healthy lifestyle. Include regular exercise, nutritious meals, lots of fresh water, positive thinking, and inspirational readings. Manage stress through yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness.
- Keep busy with interesting activities or hobbies.
- Avoid people, places, and situations that trigger your smoking behavior.
The sooner you quit, the sooner your risk of dying from smoking-related causes begins to decline. For example, in just 2-3 weeks you start to lower your risk of heart attack, and just one year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a cigarette smoker.
Smoking and Addiction Treatment
Many individuals who seek treatment for substance use disorders and addiction may take up smoking as a habit during recovery. While some find smoking to be a convenient alternative to other addictive behaviors, this simply swaps one harmful addiction for another.
For this reason, some treatment programs also address quitting smoking during recovery. Turning Point of Tampa, for example, offers smoking cessation programs during treatment, including access to a psychiatrist and proven guidelines to help quit.
Believe in yourself and in your ability to be successful. Remember that by quitting smoking, you are extending, and possibly saving, your life.
Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.