Tobacco and Health
There are many reasons to quit tobacco. Maybe you’re stressed about the money you’re spending. Maybe you’re planning to start a family, or you’re battling anxiety, or you want to ensure you’re as healthy as possible to see your children grow up.
The Benefits of Quitting
The benefits of quitting tobacco — for your physical and mental health — can begin almost immediately. Your heart rate and blood pressure will both drop, and within days you will notice improvements in your sense of taste and smell, as well as your breathing. Quitting can also:
- Reduce stress and improve your mental health.
- Help you save money.
- Boost the effectiveness of some anxiety and depression medications.
- Make it easier to stop using drugs and alcohol.
- Increase your energy.
- Reduce your risk for cancer.
- Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Improve your lung function, skin, and night vision.
- Strengthen your immune system, muscles, and bones.
- Limit the exposure of loved ones and pets to secondhand smoke.
- Help you manage HIV and other chronic health conditions.
The Risks of Smoking
The U.S. Surgeon General advises that smoking can harm almost every organ in the body. Using tobacco exposes you to harmful chemicals that can:
- Increase your risk for many types of cancer, including lung, pancreatic, kidney, stomach, and bladder cancer, as well as cancers of the blood, throat, and mouth.
- Lead to problems with your teeth, gums, and mouth.
- Decrease the effectiveness of medications for depression, anxiety, and psychotic disorders.
The Risks of Secondhand Smoke
Tobacco smoke is a toxic mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals are poisonous and reach every organ in your body. You expose those around you to secondhand smoke when you smoke in the home, cars, and public places. Protect the health of those you love by quitting tobacco.
Secondhand smoke is responsible for thousands of deaths. Breathing even a little of it can be dangerous.
- It affects babies before and after they are born.
- It causes cancer in adults.
- It can affect lung development and make asthma worse in infants and children.
- It increases the risk of heart disease in non-smokers.
- It can lead to cancer in cats, dogs, and other pets.
The Risks of Smokeless Tobacco
Did you know that smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals — including arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, and the particularly harmful tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs)? The levels of those TSNAs can be up to 100 times higher than in cigarettes.
Smokeless tobacco is not an effective aid for quitting smoking because using it does not reduce a person’s dependence on nicotine, a highly addictive chemical. In fact, nicotine from smokeless tobacco stays in the bloodstream longer than with cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco can also lead to:
- Cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas
- Increased risk for stroke and heart disease
- Gum disease and painful precancerous mouth sores
- Tooth decay and tooth loss
Smoking can cause serious problems for pregnant women and their babies. Infants born to women who smoke have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). And pregnant women who smoke can experience:
- Birth complications
- Low birth weight infants
It’s best to quit smoking before you become pregnant. If you are pregnant and smoke, you should quit as soon as possible to reduce the chance of harm to you and your baby. Talk with your health care provider before using any medication to quit smoking.