Quitting tobacco has many immediate health benefits:
- Decreases the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease
- Improves ulcers and reduces the risk of recurrence
- Reduces the risk of mouth sores, gum problems, and tooth loss
- Saves money and improves social acceptance
- Sets a positive example to others
- Reduces the risk of additional heart attacks and strokes and improves general health for tobacco users who have already developed coronary heart disease
- Improves response to treatment for smokers who have already been diagnosed with lung cancer
Tobacco use is associated with a number of different cancers as well as chronic lung conditions and cardiovascular diseases:
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, with 90% of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths among women attributed to smoking.
- Smoking increases the risk of cancers of the throat, mouth, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix.
- People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers. The risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked.
- Smoking causes most cases of chronic obstructive lung disease, which includes bronchitis and emphysema.
Products that Contain Tobacco
Many products contain tobacco and cancer-causing substances:
- Cigarettes: Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke increase a person's risk of developing many types of cancers. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease, emphysema, stroke, ulcers, cataracts, and vision loss. Cigarette smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. More than 435,000 Americans die each year from smoking. Half of all lifetime smokers will die early because of smoking.
- Cigars: Cigar smoking is not safer than cigarettes. In truth, a large cigar may have as much tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes, and smaller cigars may have as much tobacco as three to 10 cigarettes.
- Pipes and Hookahs: Pipes and hookahs are also not safer than cigarettes. In fact, hookah and pipe tobacco contain many toxins. Pipe smokers are 60% more likely to lose their teeth than nonsmokers. Many hookah bars provide herbal alternatives without tobacco for smoking. This eliminates nicotine, but it still carries health hazards from inhaling burning chemicals.
- Smokeless and Dissolvable Tobacco: Smokeless tobacco (also called chewing or spit tobacco) is placed between the cheek or lip and the gums and is held there or chewed instead of being smoked. Dry snuff is sniffed through the nose. Dissolvable tobacco products often resemble candy. Some smokeless tobacco products increase a person's risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, tongue, pancreas, and esophagus. Smokeless tobacco products can also scratch teeth, wear away tooth enamel, cause mouth sores, and permanently damage the gums.
- Secondhand Smoke: Also called environmental tobacco smoke, this includes smoke from the end of a burning cigarette, pipe, or cigar and smoke that is exhaled by the smoker. Secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous to children, who are more likely to get bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and asthma when they are exposed to it.
Tips for avoiding secondhand smoke
- Ask family members and visitors not to smoke in your home or car (especially if there are children around).
- Choose restaurants, bars, events, and businesses that do not allow smoking. If smokers don't follow the rules, ask someone in charge to enforce the policy.
- Politely avoid situations in which others may smoke around you. Don't spend time with people while they are smoking. There is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke.
Ways to Quit Smoking and Tobacco Use
- Group tobacco cessation programs or individual therapy can be very helpful. When looking for a program or counselor, feel free to ask questions about the program. Ask if the program helps people identify triggers and find replacement activities, and if it provides long-term support and encouragement for staying tobacco-free.
- Telephone counseling and a list of tobacco cessation programs in Utah are available through the Utah Tobacco Quitline by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Nationally, people can call the National Cancer Institute Smoking Quitline for support at 1-877-448-7848.
- Online quitting programs can also be very helpful:
- The Utah Tobacco Prevention and Control Program offers an online tobacco cessation service, which may be accessed at www.tobaccofreeutah.org/quitline.
- QuitNet is an online community that offers support and tools to help you quit smoking. Visit www.quitnet.com/qnhomepage.aspx.
- The EX Plan is a free smoking cessation program that can help you think a whole new way about quitting. Learn more about becoming an ex at http://www.becomeanex.org/.
- View more resources on the National Cancer Institute website.
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