The potential benefits of quitting smoking are vast. For many people, quitting smoking may be the single most important step they can take to improve their health. Tobacco abuse is associated with many serious illnesses, including heart disease, lung cancer, cancers of other parts of the respiratory and digestive tracts (mouth and throat, esophagus, pancreas), cancers of the genitourinary tract including kidney and bladder cancer, premature aging, emphysema and chronic lung disease, and stroke. In fact, smoking can cause damage to nearly every organ in the body.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the #1 cause of preventable death in the US. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in early 2013, smokers on average lose 1 decade of life expectancy; that is, those who don’t abuse tobacco live on average about 10 years longer than smokers. It is estimated that quitting before the age of 40 can reduce the risk of smoking-related death by about 90%. Even those who quit smoking later in life can enjoy significant health benefits.
There are many online resources to help smokers quit. These include websites operated by federal agencies (smokefree.gov, betobaccofree.gov, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/quit_smoking), the American Cancer Society (https://www.cancer.org), and a number of state health departments. Free counseling via phone is also available from the QUIT-NOW helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW).