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Start living better—quit smoking

Smoking comes with a long list of harmful effects and drawbacks. Quitting can improve your life on many levels.

Quitting smoking is a great idea—for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps the most compelling of these reasons is that quitting can save your life. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages—even for those who already have a smoking-related illness.

Here's some more specific information on the harmful effects of smoking and the benefits of quitting.

How smoking harms

  • Tobacco contains a drug called nicotine. This drug is highly addictive—thought to be as addictive as heroin or cocaine, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled.
  • Smoking damages nearly every organ of the body, including the heart, lungs, throat, bladder, kidneys, pancreas, stomach and mouth. This damage can be life-threatening: Smokers die around 10 years earlier than people who've never smoked, according to the ACS.
  • Smoking can be tough on the pocketbook. Use this calculator to find out how much you can save by quitting.
  • Smoking harms other people too. Secondhand smoke causes thousands of deaths each year from lung cancer and heart disease—and these deaths occur in healthy nonsmokers, according to the HHS.
  • Kids might follow in your footsteps. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to start smoking themselves, research has found.

How quitting helps your health

  • Your sense of smell returns to normal.
  • Smoker's cough goes away.
  • Food tastes better and digests normally.
  • You have more energy.
  • You breathe much more easily.
  • Climbing stairs and doing light housework don't leave you out of breath.
  • You're free of the mess, smell and burns in clothing.
  • Appearance issues—such as stained teeth, yellow fingernails and premature wrinkling of the skin—improve.
  • You feel free of needing cigarettes.
  • You'll live longer and have less chance of heart disease, stroke, lung disease and cancer.
  • You enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses and reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • You become a better role model for children.
  • You could save a lot of money—and spend it on something you really want.

Reviewed 10/7/2021

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