Improving Health by Quitting Smoking

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. Fortunately, smoking and tobacco use have declined since the mid-1960s, but they are still putting people, including children, at risk for preventable conditions.

Tobacco use harms every organ in the body, with more than 16 million Americans living with a disease caused by smoking (source). Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. Using smokeless tobacco doesn’t reduce health risks. Smokeless, or chewing, tobacco causes cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas, and is associated with many other oral health risks. It also increases the risk for death from heart disease and stroke.

Smoking rates among men.

Smoking Among American Males

  • In 2015, 19 percent of males in the United States were smokers.
  • Smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers, on average
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, claiming more than 480,000 lives annually.
  • Males report being current smokers mores than females.
  • Tobacco use cost the United States more than $289 billion a year, with $133 billion spent in direct medical care for adults, and more than $156 billion of lost productivity per year.
  • Adults ages 25 to 44 have the highest percentage of smokers compared to other age groups (21.6%).

Tips to Quit Smoking

People can, and do, quit using tobacco, but experts agree it’s not easy. Nicotine, a drug found in tobacco products, is highly addictive. For as challenging as it can be, though, quitting smoking is worth it – the health benefits of quitting include lowered risk of lung cancer and many other types of cancer; reduced risk for heart and lung diseases; and reduced respiratory symptoms.

Going cold turkey is possible, but the following treatments are effective for smokers who want assistance quitting:

  • Brief help by a doctor, even if it’s 10 minutes to advise a patient about quitting
  • Counseling, whether individual, group, or telephone counseling
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Treatment with person-to-person contact
  • Nicotine replacement products, including over-the-counter and prescription; patches, gum, lozenges, and nasal spray are all options

Pocket Nurse encourages you to quit smoking! For education on this subject, we offer a “Dangers of Smoking” chart, perfect for high school classrooms.

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