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Benefits of Quitting

The University of Tennessee Knoxville went smoke-free August 1st 2018 in partnership with The Smoke-Free Campus initiative. The  initiative was specifically developed over time to address three concerns: protecting the health and safety of UT’s students, faculty, staff, and visitors; promoting a healthy and safe environment to learn, work, and live; and to ensure compliance with state law.

Although the policy does not require anyone to quit smoking, consider looking over just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

Immediate Rewards

Kicking the tobacco habit offers some benefits that you’ll notice right away and some that will develop over time. These rewards improve most peoples’ day-to-day lives a great deal:

  • Food tastes better,
  • Your sense of smell returns to normal,
  • Everyday activities (such as climbing stairs or light housework) no longer leave you out of breath, and
  • You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.

Over Time

Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your body begins a series of changes that continue for years.

20 Minutes

Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

12 Hours

The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

2 Weeks to 3 Months

Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

1 to 9 Months

Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

1 Year

The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.

5 Years

Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a nonsmoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a nonsmoker after two to five years.

10 Years

The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

15 Years

The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.

Cost Savings

The prospect of better health is a major reason for quitting, but there are other reasons, too.

Smoking is expensive. It isn’t hard to figure out how much you spend on smoking: multiply how much money you spend on tobacco every day by 365 (days per year). The amount may surprise you. Now multiply that by the number of years you have been using tobacco and that amount will probably shock you.

Multiply the cost per year by ten (for the next ten years) and ask yourself what you would rather do with that much money. And this doesn’t include other possible costs, such as higher costs for health and life insurance, and likely health care costs due to tobacco-related problems.

Health of Others

Smoking not only harms your health but it hurts the health of those around you. Exposure to secondhand smoke (also called environmental tobacco smoke or passive smoking) includes exhaled smoke as well as smoke from burning cigarettes.

Studies have shown that secondhand smoke causes thousands of deaths each year from lung cancer in healthy non-smokers. Over the past fifty years, this amounts to more than 2.5 million deaths from secondhand smoke.

If a mother smokes, there is a higher risk of infant and childhood health issues, especially if she smoked while she was pregnant.

Studies support that babies and children who are exposed to cigarette smoke indoors have more ear infections, colds, bronchitis, and problems with breathing than children in non-smoking families.

To learn more, please see Secondhand Smoke.

Setting an Example

If you have children, you probably want to set a good example for them. When asked, nearly all smokers say they don’t want their children to smoke. But children whose parents smoke are more likely to start smoking themselves. You can become a better role model for them by quitting now.