Tobacco causes 8 million deaths every year. When evidence was released this year that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco. Quitting can be tough, especially with the added social and economic stress that many have experienced as a result of the pandemic, but there are lots of reasons to quit.
Smokers who quit will experience immediate and long-term health benefits, which include:
- Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves, and your lung function increases.
- 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
- 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
- 5 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
- 10 years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker
- 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker
Children who may be exposed to second-hand smoke benefit from others around them quitting smoking—their risk of many diseases, such as respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma) and ear infections, are greatly lowered.
Quitting smoking also reduces the chances of erectile dysfunction, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, babies with low birth weights and miscarriage.
Quick tips to curb your cravings during your quit journey
Delay: Delay as long as you can before giving in to your urge.
Deep breathing: Take 10 deep breaths to relax yourself from within until the urge passes.
Drink water: Drinking water is a healthy alternative to sticking a cigarette in your mouth.
Do something else to distract yourself: Take a shower, read, go for a walk, listen to music.
Free online and toll-free quit lines
National Quit Line: 800.QUIT.NOW (800.784.8669)
SmokefreeTXT: text QUIT to 47848
Text message support