How would you like to get your teeth brown; your breath to smell; subject yourself to heart disease, cancer, and stroke; and pay only $8.30 for the privilege? Of course we are referring to cigarette smoking, although other tobacco products such as tobacco chewing and cigars present comparable risks.
Most of us know the risks associated with tobacco use, how could we miss them? Frightening pictures and statistics appear in public service ads depicting these risks, educating all of us to the harmful effects of tobacco use. And yet, many Americans still light up or chew tobacco.
Percentage of Current Adult Cigarette Smokers in the United States
- Total Population 20.6%
- Male 23.5%
- Female 17.9%
- 18-24 21.8%
- 25-44 24%
- 45-64 21.9%
- 65 + 9.5%
- White 22.1%
- Hispanic 14.5%
- African American 21.3%
- 9-11 Years of Eduction 33.6%
- GED Diploma 49.1%
- Undergraduate Degree 11.1%
- College Graduate 5.6%
- Below Poverty Level 31.1%
- Above Poverty Level 19.4%Data from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Why People Smoke
The major reason given as to why people smoke is because it’s a habit, the second most popular reason is because it relaxes them and the third reason is that they enjoy it.
Health Effects of Smoking
The adverse health effects of tobacco smoking account for 443,000 deaths, or close to one in every 5 deaths each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco smoking than from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.
Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease, two to four times more likely to develop stroke, and 12-13 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema).
How to Quit Smoking
If you smoke and are ready to quit, here are some suggestions. Be prepared and expect that you will experience some withdrawal symptoms including intense cravings, anxiety, tension, impatience, headaches and depression. They don’t call it an addiction for nothing! However, more than 38 million people in the United States have successfully quit smoking.
- Write down on a piece of paper what you don’t like about smoking and why you want to quit.
- Get support from your friends, family and coworkers. Let them know you are trying to quit and ask them to remind you of why it is important to you to quit smoking if they see you reach for a cigarette.
- Take it slow. Some people can quit smoking by setting a date to stop and then doing so. For others who find that approach unsuccessful gradual withdrawal is suggested. Many people have quit by smoking the most cigarettes they ever smoke in a day, and then reducing it by one cigarette a day until they are down to zero.
- Try a stop smoking product. For some people this works well due to the withdrawal symptoms being so severe it drives them back to smoking.
- Keep busy and spend time in places that prohibit smoking.
- Reward yourself for not smoking. Since you are now saving the money that you previously spent on cigarettes, buy yourself something nice!
With commitment and determination you will eventually find a strategy that will work to stop smoking. Remember, there is power in beginning. Now you are on your way to a healthier life.