Smoking cessation is an effort by a person who regularly uses tobacco products to establish a plan to reduce, and eventually eliminate, tobacco use. Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug, in addition to the 69 chemicals known to cause cancer. All major medical institutions acknowledge that quitting smoking greatly increases a person's health prospects.
In the past few decades, the medical community has come to recognize the enormous health risks of smoking. Though governmental and health related organizations have conducted extensive campaigns to address the hazards of smoking, less information is available on strategies a smoker can use to quit.
Tobacco use is a major cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Worldwide, tobacco use (including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless, and chewing tobacco) causes nearly five million deaths per year. Current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than ten million deaths annually by 2020.
Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.
Nicotine is the most abundant psychoactive drug in tobacco products that produces dependence.Nicotine can produce both excitation and stimulation along with relaxation at the same time, making it a very attractive drug for addictive personalities. Both smoking tobacco and smokeless tobacco (chewing, dipping) can lead to nicotine dependence. Chewing and dipping tobacco is placed between the lip and gums or in the cheek. Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. Examples of nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and increased appetite.
An estimated 20.9% of all adults (age 18 or older), or approximately 44.5 million people, smoke cigarettes in the United States.
Cigarette smoking is more common among men than women.
Cigarette and cigar smoking are the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In the United States, cigarette smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually, or about 438,000 deaths per year. An estimated 38,000 of these deaths annually are the result of secondhand smoke exposure. On average, smokers die 13-14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
Smoking cessation benefits men and women at any age. Smokers who quit before age 50 have half the risk of dying in the next 16 years compared with people who continue to smoke. Older adults who quit smoking also have a reduced risk of dying from coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cigarette smoking costs more than $167 billion annually, based on lost productivity ($92 billion) and healthcare expenditures ($75.5 billion).
Smoking cessation (quitting tobacco) is difficult and may require multiple attempts, as users often relapse because of withdrawal symptoms. Tobacco dependence is a chronic (long-term) condition that often requires repeated intervention. As part of the wider tobacco control movement, there have been numerous advertising campaigns, smoking restriction policies, tobacco taxes, and other strategies to encourage people to quit smoking.
Smoking in pregnancy accounts for an estimated 20-30% of low-birth weight babies, up to 14% of preterm deliveries, and some 10% of all infant deaths. Even apparently healthy, full-term babies of smokers have been found to be born with narrowed airways and decreased lung function.
Smoking by parents is associated with a wide range of adverse effects in their children, including increased asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath, and an increased frequency of colds and ear infections. Smoking may also increase the chances of a newborn's death by sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The American Lung Association estimates that secondhand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infections in children less than 18 months of age, resulting in 7,500 to 15,000 annual hospitalizations.
Tobacco advertising, family smokers, and peer pressure play an important role in encouraging young people to begin a lifelong addiction to smoking before they are old enough to fully understand the long-term health risk. Approximately 90% of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21.
Among current adult smokers in the United States, 70% report that they want to quit completely. In 2004, an estimated 14.6 million, or 40.5% of adult smokers, had stopped smoking for at least one day during the preceding 12 months because they were trying to quit.
Nearly 54% of current high school cigarette smokers in the United States tried to quit smoking within the preceding year.
Smoking low-tar, low-nicotine, or "light" cigarettes may actually make it harder for smokers to kick the habit. Studies have reported that individuals who smoke light cigarettes are more than 50% less likely to quit smoking than those who smoke regular cigarettes.
People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk of dying prematurely. Benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, but cessation is beneficial at all ages.
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related health conditions
Emphysema: Emphysema is a chronic (long lasting) condition in which the walls between the alveoli (air sacs) within the lung lose their ability to stretch and recoil, causing shortness of breath.
Under normal conditions, air enters the nose or mouth and travels down the air tube (trachea) to the main air passages (bronchial tube). These passages allow air to go into the right and left lungs. Each bronchial tube branches into smaller passages (bronchioles) and eventually into tiny air sacs (alveoli). It is through the alveoli that oxygen enters the bloodstream when a person inhales; carbon dioxide is expelled upon exhaling.
In smoking, the air sacs become weakened and can break apart. Elasticity of the lung tissue is lost, causing air to be trapped in the air sacs and decreasing the amount of oxygen that is available for the body and also decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) expelled from the lungs. Also, it is easier for the airways to be blocked, because normal respiratory function is lost.
Over 3.1 million Americans have emphysema, of which 91% are 45 years of age or older.
Emphysema damage is irreversible and in an individual who continues smoking with emphysema, the prognosis is most certainly death. Lung transplants or lung volume reduction surgeries can be performed with limited success. These are major invasive surgeries with many complications.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or chronic obstructive lung disease: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive lung disease, is a general term for diseases that damage the lungs and includes emphysema and bronchitis (inflammation of the lungs). Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. In COPD, the airways and air sacs lose their elasticity (like an old rubber band) and the walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed. The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed (swollen), causing excess mucus to be produced that tends to clog the airways. COPD develops slowly, and it may be many years before a person notices symptoms such as feeling short of breath. Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older people. It is estimated that more than 16 million Americans have some form of COPD. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 120,000 Americans.
benefits of smoking cessation
The health benefits of smoking cessation (quitting) are substantial. An individual's blood circulation begins to improve and the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. Carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas found in cigarette smoke, reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen. An individual's heart rate and blood pressure, which may be abnormally high while smoking, begins to return to normal. Within a few days of quitting, the individual's sense of taste and smell return, and breathing becomes increasingly easier.
Smoking cessation lowers the risk for lung and other types of cancer, including those of the bladder, throat, stomach, pancreas, and mouth. The risk for developing cancer continues to decline with the number of years smoking has been stopped.
Risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and peripheral vascular disease is reduced within one to two years of cessation.
Cessation reduces respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The rate of decline in lung function is slower among persons who quit smoking than those who smoke.
Women who stop smoking before or during pregnancy reduce their risk for adverse reproductive outcomes such as infertility or having a low-birth-weight baby.
Additional, immediate benefits (such as improved circulation and increased energy and breathing capacity) are other good reasons for older adults to quit smoking.