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No matter how old you are, quitting smoking will improve your lung capacity, lengthen your life expectancy, and give you a better quality of life. Have you been thinking about quitting? Here's why and how.

Over 45 million American adults are smokers, a figure that amounts to a whopping 19.3 percent. All of those are aware of the risks they inflict on themselves every day they continue their addiction, at least vaguely. But people are weird. They spend more time worrying about threats that are beyond their control — like terrorism — than those they actively participate in.

Smoking is much more likely to kill you than a terrorist attack, but if you are a smoker you choose to ignore this fact because you know that you are not going to die tomorrow. “At some point in the future, decades from now” is obviously too theoretical for most people. Though the deadly effects of a cigarette addiction rarely show up immediately, there is no time like World No Tobacco Day to remind yourselves that they are very real indeed.

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The facts speak for themselves:

  • Smoking causes more cases of death and disability than any single disease!

  • Every time you light up, you choose to inhale 4,000 different chemicals, of which at least 80 cause cancer.

  • Smokers in their forties and fifties are five times more likely to have a heart attack than people of the same age who do not smoke.

  • People who have smoked all their adult life have a 50 percent chance of dying from their addiction, and as many as half of these deaths will occur during middle age. Smoking can be fatal sooner than you may realize.

  • By smoking, you actively increase your chance of dying from lung cancer by 12 percent (women) or 22 percent (men). You also have a higher risk of getting other cancers, including oral cancer, liver cancer, leukemia, uterine cancer, and stomach cancer.

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease makes it hard to breathe. Would you like to be one of those people that constantly require oxygen?

You are not exempt from these dangers. The only way to improve your life expectancy and your health is to stop smoking. Though there is no time like the present, smokers do have to be truly ready to quit if they want to stay quit.

Quitting Smoking — You Can Do It!

Smoking is an addiction like gambling, drinking, sex, and cocaine can be. Kicking any addiction is hard, but stopping smoking is not as difficult as you may think. Anyone who is truly motivated can do it. Sometimes, you need a wake-up call like high blood pressure, a heart attack, or a smoking-related death in your family. It's best if you don't wait for something terrible to happen before you stop smoking, though. If you are simply fed up with cigarettes, you can quit.

I decided to quit playing ostrich 18 months ago. I pulled my head out of the sand and took a good, hard look at smoking statistics and the effect it was having on my health. I decided to quit for many reasons, but my kids were the most important one. Second- and third-hand smoke damages the health of everyone who lives with a smoker, and children of smokers are more likely to take the bad habit up later in life too.

One day, I threw away my half-smoked packet of cigarettes and simply quit. It was hard, but not that hard. The first three days were the worst, and the urge to smoke returned periodically after that. It still rears its ugly heard sometimes, when I experience a particularly stressful moment.

The health benefits quitting smoking offered were noticeable pretty immediately, however, and that is certainly one of the things that kept me from lighting up again. Climbing stairs became easier. That smoker's cough in the morning went away. I stopped suffering from cold hands and feet. My blood pressure went down.

When you quit, the first things that you are going to experience will be the negative symptoms of the withdrawal process. You will feel anxious, moody, and angry. You are going to be extra hungry, or experience cravings. Your body is looking for a way to make up for the loss of its familiar habit somehow. As time goes on, you will start seeing the positives.

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