I’ve smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years—what’s the use of quitting now? Will I even be able to quit after all this time?
No matter your age, quitting smoking improves your health. If you quit smoking, you are likely to add years to your life, breathe more easily, have more energy, and save money. You will also:
- Improve your sense of taste and smell
- Stop smelling like smoke
- Set a healthy example for your children and grandchildren
- Smoking shortens your life. It causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the United States each year.
Smoking makes millions of Americans sick by causing:
- Lung disease. Smoking damages your lungs and airways, sometimes causing chronic bronchitis. It can also cause emphysema, which destroys your lungs, making it very hard for you to breathe.
- Heart disease. Smoking increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Cancer. Smoking can lead to cancer of the lung, mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix.
- Respiratory problems. If you smoke, you are more likely than a nonsmoker to get the flu, pneumonia, or other infections that can interfere with your breathing.
- Osteoporosis. If you smoke, your chance of developing osteoporosis (weak bones) is greater.
- Eye diseases. Smoking increases the risk of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss and blindness, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that makes cigarettes so addictive. It’s one reason why the first few weeks after quitting are the hardest. Although some people who give up smoking have no withdrawal symptoms, many people continue to have strong cravings for cigarettes. They also may feel grumpy, hungry, or tired. Some people have headaches, feel depressed, or have problems sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms fade over time.
Many people say the first step to quitting smoking successfully is to make a firm decision to quit and pick a definite date to stop. Then, you’ll need to make a clear plan for how you will stick to it. You may need to try many approaches to find what works best for you. For example, you might:
- Talk with your doctor.
- Make a plan for dealing with urges to smoke.
- Read self-help information.
- Go to individual or group counseling.
- Try the online mobile tools from Smokefree60+ at www.60plus.smokefree.gov.
- Ask a friend for help.
- Take medicine to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
If at first you don’t succeed, you are not a failure. You can try again and be successful. If you were able to quit smoking for just 24 hours in the past few months or weeks, you have doubled your chances of quitting for good in the coming year!