One of the hardest habits to break is smoking. An addictive drug, smoking can become a bad habit after just one cigarette.

Described as the practice in which tobacco or cannabis is burned and smoke is tasted or inhaled, smoking is extremely damaging to your health. The combustion process releases an active substance called nicotine that, once inhaled, travels to your lungs, compromising their health over time.

Knowing this, why would someone start smoking? Some start purely out of curiosity or because their parents or other family members smoke. Most young people begin smoking because of peer pressure. Sadly, teenages are more likely to become addicted. In fact, statistics show that nine out of 10 tobacco users began smoking before the age of 18.

What is tobacco?
Grown for its leaves, tobacco is the primary ingredient for producing cigarettes. Most

people smoke tobacco, tobacco leaveswhile others chew it or sniff it to achieve a variety of effects. Tobacco itself is an ddictive substance before nicotine, a very dangerous chemical, is added to the equation. Tobacco also contains more than 19 chemicals that may cause cancer and 4,000 other chemicals that result in several health diseases.

Side effects of smoking
Smoking is associated to an array of very dangerous health diseases:

Lung Cancer – A disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the tissues of the lungs. When left untreated, lung cancer can metastasize to nearby tissues and spread rapidly to the other parts of the body.

Respiratory and lung problems – Diseases such as:
– Emphysema; occurs when the air sacs in the lungs are gradually destroyed.smokers lung
– Chronic bronchitis, characterized by a cough occurs every day with sputum (mucous), lasting at least three month over two consecutive years.
– Asthma; a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing.

Heart and blood vessel problems:
– Poor blood supply to the legs
– Blood clots and aneurysm which may lead to stroke
– Blot clots in the legs
– High blood pressure
– Coronary artery diseases such as angina

Erectile problems, including infertility

Delayed or poor wound healing

Problems during pregnancy, including premature labor, low birth weight babies, and miscarriage

Tooth and gum diseases, including tooth discolouration

Aging skin, including wrinkles and skin discolouration

Decreased ability to smell and taste

Unfortunately, smoking does not only affect the person holding the cigarette. People who inhale secondhand smoke may also suffer the consequences, including: child with asthma
– Lung cancer
– Heart disease
– Lower respiratory tract infection
– Asthma
– Lung damage
– SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Why stop smoking?
If I haven’t yet made it clear, there are many reasons as to why you to need to stop smoking, including:
– extend your life span
– reduce your risk of having a low-birth weight baby
– lessen your risk of weight gain
– avoid emotional or psychological problems
– reduce your risk of developing lung cancer – your risks are higher the longer you continue to smoke
– save money!

Immediate (visible) benefits of quitting:
– Return of the sense of smell and taste
– Clothes, breath and hair will gradually smell better
– Your teeth will slowly become whiter
– Be a role model for your children! They are less likely to try smoking if they don’t see you smoking
– Your skin will appear healthier
– Fingers and fingernails will slowly appear less yellow
– Breathing will be improved

What happens to your body when you quit smoking is quite remarkable:

20 minutes

Blood pressure and pulse rate slowly return to normal.

8 hours

Levels of nicotine in the bloodstream slowly drop.

12 hours

Blood oxygen level return to normal.

24 hours

Anxiety level peak in intensities, but returns to pre-cessation levels after two weeks.

48 hours

Damaged nerve endings begin to re-grow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal.

72 hours

Your body will now be 100% nicotine-free. Withdrawal symptoms will be at their peak.

5 – 8 days

You will experience three induced smoke craving per day. Learn to fight it.

10 days

Cravings are cut down to two per day.

2 to 4 weeks

Anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended.

21 days

Brain acetylcholine receptor counts up regulated in response to nicotine’s presence have now down regulated and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers.

2 weeks to 3 months

Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve.

3 weeks to 3 months

Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.

1 to 9 months

Cilia have re-grown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections.

1 year

Risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.

5 to 15 years

Lesser risk of  stroke occurrence.

10 years

Your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker.

13 years

Your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker.

15 years

Your risk of developing coronary heart disease is now at the same rate with a person who never smoked.

20 years

Female excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, has now reduced to that of a never-smoker.

The real question is: why wouldn’t you quit smoking?