Smokers are regularly advised to quit smoking, but many smokers don’t fully understand the ways that stopping could benefit them. Even some of those who know the real benefits of quitting do not take action because they think that it might already be too late. However, it is never too late to stop smoking. The benefits range from positive effects on your health, through to giving you more money to spend on other things.
The health benefits of quitting smoking are undeniable. Smokers are far more likely to develop a wide range of different diseases, including cancer and lung disease, than non-smokers are. If you already have health complaints, continuing to smoke can exacerbate these conditions, meaning that the effects may be worsened, or the chances of recovery reduced.
Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop lung conditions. Smoking fills the lungs with chemicals and physical particles which can irritate the lining of the lungs and will reduce their function. As we age, our lung function decreases naturally, however it decreases far more rapidly in smokers. For example, the average 75 year old should still have about 60-80% of the lung function that they had at the age of 25, however; a heavy smoker is likely to have less than 20% of the lung function of a 25 year old.
Some smokers will not even reach 75 because their lung function has been reduced to a level which is unsustainable. This results in death. Stopping smoking at any age can significantly decrease the rapid decline in lung function.
Signs of a lung condition may include:
- Shortness of breath which is not related to strenuous physical activity.
- Taking a long time to catch your breath after exercise.
- A chesty cough, which may produce mucous.
- Regularly suffering from chest infections, including minor illnesses developing into chest infections.
Giving up smoking will also help to give you more energy, even if you don’t make any other lifestyle changes. Smoking hampers your body’s ability to carry oxygen and other vital substances around your body, which means that your organs and muscles do not get what they need to function properly.
Within three months of stopping smoking, your circulation will have improved to levels that allow you to feel as though you have more energy, fewer headaches and an improved immune system. Improved blood flow can also give men better, longer lasting erections. Studies have shown that women also enjoy improved orgasms after they stop smoking.
Quitting is also better for your senses. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes and cigars dull taste and smell, meaning that food actually tastes different to smokers than it does to non-smokers. After a few weeks of not smoking, your senses will have recovered enough for you to be able to smell and taste the difference.
Those who are trying for a baby should also consider the health benefits of stopping smoking. Quitting smoking will increase chances of conception and decrease the likelihood of miscarriage. It makes the womb lining more hospitable and makes men’s sperm more potent. Once you are pregnant, it will improve your chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
You will also see an improvement to your physical appearance after stopping smoking. The skin of a smoker is likely to age more quickly and their wrinkles can appear deeper. Once you stop smoking, your skin will start to get more of the nutrients and oxygen that it requires to keep it supple and young-looking. Your hair will also look and feel nicer. In addition to this, smoking stains your teeth and makes it more likely that you will get gum disease. Stopping smoking will reduce your risk.
In addition to the health benefits, there are a number of other benefits, including reducing the risks to your family and children. Passive smoking can cause many of the same health complaints as active smoking, so smoking near to your children (especially in a confined space such as a house) can create health problems for them too.
The financial savings are also a great incentive to quit. The amount that you save will depend on how many cigarettes you smoke per day, and what brand of cigarettes you choose. For illustrative purposes, we can calculate that a person who smokes 20 average priced cigarettes per day could save £50 a week by stopping. This adds up to savings of about £2640 per year.
In addition to this, if you pay for life insurance or health insurance, quitting smoking can help to reduce your insurance premiums, as this is one of the questions that they will ask is whether you smoke. Being able to give a negative answer to this question can help to cut your premiums.