15 reasons to quit tobacco

AHEAD of tomorrow, which will be celebrated as World No Tobacco Day, Your Health Your Wealth selected 15 reasons from the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) “More than 100 reasons to quit tobacco”, for you to consider.

According to the WHO, tobacco causes eight million deaths every year.

In fact, the organisation said when evidence was released this year that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco. Acknowledging that quitting can be challenging, especially with the added social and economic stress that have come as a result of the pandemic, WHO presented some of the reasons to quit, stating that benefits are almost immediate.

“After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate drops. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Within two to 12 weeks, your circulation improves and lung function increases. Within one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Within five to 15 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. Within 10 years, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker,” WHO said.

Reasons to quit tobacco

1. Smokers have a greater risk of developing a severe case and dying from COVID-19.

2. Over one million people die every year from exposure to second-hand smoke.

3. Smoking also diminishes sperm count, motility and shape of the sperm in men.

4. Smoking can cause erectile dysfunction. Smoking restricts blood flow to the penis, creating an inability to achieve an erection. Erectile dysfunction is more common in smokers and very likely to persist or become permanent unless the man stops smoking early in life.

Tobacco kills half of its users. Use of tobacco in any form robs you of your health and causes debilitating diseases.

6. Smokers are up to 22 times more likely to develop lung cancer in their lifetime than non-smokers. Tobacco smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, causing over two thirds of lung cancer deaths globally.

7. The immunosuppressive effects of tobacco put people living with HIV at an increased risk of developing AIDS. Among HIV-positive smokers, the average length of life lost is 12.3 years, more than double the number of years lost by HIV-positive non-smokers.

8. Tobacco use increases the risk of periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease that wears away at the gums and destroys the jawbone, leading to tooth loss.

9. Tobacco smokers have up to twice the risk of stroke and a fourfold increased risk of heart disease.

10. Some studies have also demonstrated a link between tobacco smoking and an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly among heavy smokers and women who start smoking before their first pregnancy.

11. Women who smoke are more likely to experience painful menstruation and more severe menopausal symptoms.

12. Infants born to women who smoke, use smokeless tobacco, or are exposed to second-hand smoke during pregnancy have a higher risk of preterm birth and low birthweight.

13. With every puff of a cigarette, toxins and carcinogens are delivered to the body, at least 70 of the chemicals are known to cause cancer.

14. The risk of developing diabetes is higher in smokers.

15. Smoking is a risk factor for dementia, a group of disorders that result in mental decline.

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