It is important to decide for yourself that you want to quit. Many people have mixed feelings about this - it is normal to both want to quit and want to continue tobacco use. Below is a list of reasons that might help you quit for good:
Food Tastes Better
A cigarette’s smell and bitter taste can override the taste of other foods. And smokers have fewer and less sensitive taste buds on their tongues than people who do not smoke.1
Clothes and Hair Smell Better
Cigarette smoke has a powerful odor that makes clothing and hair smell long after a cigarette was extinguished.
Secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke. Specifically, it can cause lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory tract infections in infants and children, and it can aggravate asthma symptoms.2
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists tobacco smoke as a harmful toxin for pets based on many research studies. For example, a study at Tufts University found that cats living with smokers are twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma. 3 And another study at Colorado State University found a higher incidence of nasal tumors and cancer of the sinus in dogs living in a home with smokers4
More Money for Budget
If smokers multiply the amount of money they spend on cigarettes each day by 365 (the number of days in a year), the total may surprise them. That’s a lot of money each year they could be spending on other things: bills, hobbies, vacations, college funds, etc. And the health benefits of quitting smoking mean they also will save money on health care costs in the future.
Cheaper Life Insurance
Life insurance companies charge higher premiums to smokers and tobacco chewers. The price a person pays for life insurance premiums is linked to risk, and there are many health risks related to tobacco.
Studies have shown a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. And most studies on the effects of smoking suggest that smoking increases the risk of having a fracture.5
Each night, a smoker’s body goes through withdrawal from nicotine which leads to sleep disturbances. Research shows that smokers are four times as likely as nonsmokers to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep, and smokers spend less time in deep sleep and more time in light sleep than nonsmokers.6
Whiter Teeth, Prettier Smile
The tar in cigarettes stains teeth a yellow or brownish color. Quitting smoking stops the discoloration from progressing.
Reduced Risk of Heart Attack & Stroke
Smokers are twice as likely to die from heart attacks and are more likely to have strokes than nonsmokers. However, just one year after quitting smoking, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker's. And five to 15 years after quitting, the risk of stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker. 7
Reduced Risk of Lung & Other Cancers
Smoking increases a person’s risk of many types of cancer, not just lung cancer. However, 10 years after quitting smoking, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease, as well, after quitting. 7
Smoking can accelerate the aging process of a person’s skin, which leads to more wrinkles. Smoking impairs blood flow to the skin and damages collagen and elastin (the fibers that give skin strength and elasticity).8
Freedom from the Smoking Section
If a person wants to light up a cigarette in a public area, he or she is often limited to a designated section, far from the action and other people. And many states and cities have issued bans on smoking at all in public areas.
Better Dating Odds
Clothes and hair that smell like cigarette smoke can be a turn-off on a first date. The yellowed teeth and fingers and nagging cough often caused by smoking could ruin the chances of a second date, as well.
Improved Chance of Pregnancy
Smoking has an adverse impact on fertility and male potency. According to research, women have a 40 percent lower chance of getting pregnant if they smoke. Women smokers also have a higher incidence of infertility. In addition, men who smoke cigarettes have a lower sperm count and more abnormal sperm than men who don't smoke.9
Healthier Pregnancy and Baby
Smoking increases the mother’s risk for potentially serious complications. Research shows that women who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have a low birth-weight baby.10 And the greater the number of cigarettes smoked during pregnancy, the greater the risk of perinatal death (stillbirth or death during the first four weeks of life).11
Improved Stamina when Exercising
Smoking introduces carbon monoxide into a person’s blood, which reduces the ability to transport oxygen. This means less oxygen is carried to the body’s cells, heart and lungs. A decrease in oxygen makes it much more difficult to participate in sports or even walk up a flight of stairs.
Reduced Coughing and Wheezing
Many people who smoke experience excessive coughing and wheezing. One to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. And the lung’s cilia (tiny hair-like structures) begin working properly again. Cilia help to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection. 7
Better Role Model
Kids tend to mimic what their parents and siblings do. Research has found that children of smokers are much more likely to become smokers themselves.12 But when both parents quit smoking, the odds of their children becoming regular smokers goes down by about 40 percent.13
Longer, Healthier Life
Based on the difference in life expectancy between smokers and nonsmokers, each cigarette is equivalent to taking 11 minutes off a person’s life. That’s time a person could be spending with family and friends in his or her golden years.14
1. Pavlos P et al. Evaluation of young smokers and non-smokers with Electrogustometry and Contact Endoscopy. BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders. 2009, 9:9.
2. California Environmental Protection Agency. Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant. Executive Summary. 2005.
3. Bertone E, et al. Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Risk of Malignant Lymphoma in Pet Cats. Am J Epidemiology. 2002. 156:268-273.
4. Reif J, Bruns C, Lower K. Cancer of the Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinuses and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Pet Dogs. American Journal of Epidemiology. vol. 147, no. 5: 488-492.
5. Krall E, Dawson-Hughs B. Smoking Increases Bone Loss and Descreases Intestinal Calcium Absorption. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 1999. vol. 14, no 2.
6. Punjabi N, et al. Power Spectral Analysis of EEG Activity During Sleep in Cigarette Smokers. CHEST. 2008. vol. 133, no. 2: 427-432.
7. US Department of Health & Human Services. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office on Smoking and Health. 1990.
8. Koh JS, Kang H, Choi SW, et al. Cigarette smoking associated with premature facial wrinkling: image analysis of facial skin replicas. International Journal of Dermatology 2002. 41:21-27.
9. British Medical Association, Board of Science and Education & Tobacco Control Resource Centre. Smoking and reproductive life: The impact of smoking on sexual, reproductive and child health. 2004.
10. Royal College of Physicians. Smoking and the young. London: Royal College of Physicians. 1992.
11. Kramer MS. Determinants of low birth weight: methodological assessment and meta-analysis. Bulletin World Health Organization. 1987. 65:663-737.
12. Bricker JB et al. Prospective prediction of children's smoking transitions: role of parents' and older siblings' smoking. Addiction. 2006. 101: 128-136.
13. Bricker JB et al. Nine-year prospective relationship between parental smoking cessation and children’s daily smoking. Addiction. 2003. 98:585-593.
14. Shaw M, et al. Time for a smoke? One cigarette reduces your life by 11 minutes. British Medical Journal. 2000. 320(7226):53.
This information has been approved by Amy Lukowski, PsyD (August 2015).