Smoking used to be portrayed as being glamorous in advertisements and movies. In old films, actors constantly smoked cigarettes and a tough guy usually had one hanging out the side of his mouth. It’s debatable whether smoking still makes you look cool, especially since there are fewer and fewer public places you’re even allowed to smoke. Plus we now better understand the health risks of tobacco products.
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, but nearly 44 million Americans still smoke cigarettes – 1 in every 5 adults. There are also 14 million cigar smokers and 2 million pipe smokers.
Tobacco use is not quite as widespread in California, where just over 1 in every 7 adults smokes cigarettes. In the past year, 61 percent of these smokers attempted to quit.
There are many good reasons to quit smoking, and health concerns usually top the list. Half of all smokers who keep smoking die from a smoking-related illness, including lung cancer, other types of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or lung disease. Women who smoke are also more likely to miscarry or have a baby with a low birth-weight.
There are both immediate and long-term health benefits when smokers quit. After quitting for:
- 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks – 3 months, your circulation improves and lung function increases.
- 1 – 9 months, your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
- 1 year, your risk of heart disease due to smoking cuts in half.
- 5 years, your risk of various cancers (mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder) is cut in half.
- 15 years, your risk of heart disease is the same as a non-smoker.
Cigarettes are also expensive. You can use a savings calculator to see how much money you would save if you quit smoking. For example, a pack of cigarettes costs $6.77 on average in California. If you smoke a half pack (10 cigarettes) per day, this adds up $24 per week or $1220 per year.