Smoking and tobacco use is when you inhale or consume tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars and electronic cigarettes (vaping). These products contain nicotine and numerous harmful chemicals that are associated with a range of serious health risks and adverse effects.
People engage in smoking and tobacco use for various reasons, most commonly:
- Nicotine addiction, a physical and psychological dependence, making it hard to quit
- Stress relief, some individuals turn to smoking or tobacco to cope with stress, anxiety, or other negative emotions
- Peer pressure or influence from friends, family, or caregivers who smoke
- Curiosity or experimentation with tobacco products
- Advertising and marketing promoting tobacco use
Smoking and tobacco use can be very detrimental to your health. Some common symptoms to look out for are:
- Respiratory issues damaged lungs and airways including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and infections
- Cardiovascular problems including coronary artery disease and stroke.
- Cancer, including lung cancer and throat cancer.
- Oral health issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay.
- Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit, such as cravings, anxiety and difficulty concentrating
- Fertility and reproductive issues in both men and women
- Premature ageing of the skin
- Dull sense of taste and smell
Benefits of quitting smoking
Quitting smoking and tobacco use is crucial for improving overall health and reducing the risk of associated diseases. It is never too late to quit because the day you stop, your body starts the healing process, and you will experience many benefits in just a few days or weeks.
Here are some of the more common benefits to quitting smoking:
Reduced risk of smoking related diseases
- Risk of heart attack halves after 1 year
- Risk of death from lung cancer halves after 10 years
- Risk of heart attack is the same as if you never smoked after 15 years
Better physical health
- Improved sense of taste and smell
- Improved breathing and lung function (less coughing and wheezing)
- Improved blood circulation resulting in more energy
- Healthy looking hair, skin and nails (due to more oxygen)
Better mental health
- Less stress and anxiety
- Lower risk of depression
- Increased positive mood
- Better sleep (key to mental health)