Methodist Healthcare - June 08, 2021

Tobacco use remains the largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States and smoking is linked to 90 percent of lung cancer cases. Smoking not only increases your risk for lung cancer, but also increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and emphysema, as well as 13 other cancers.

Common misconceptions about smoking and tobacco use

  • Smokeless tobacco is not healthier than regular tobacco and can cause other cancers and diseases, such as oral cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, heart disease, gum disease and other oral lesions. In addition, nicotine stays in the blood longer when using types of smokeless tobacco like chewing tobacco or snuff, which can cause blood clots and damage blood vessel lining, as well as cause a heart attack or stroke.
  • E-cigarettes and hookahs are not healthier and can be just as addictive as other forms of tobacco. E-cigarettes are not regulated and have not been proven to help smokers quit smoking.
  • A full cigar can have just as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes – on average, cigarettes have 8 milligrams of nicotine; full cigars may contain more than 14,000 milligrams. Regular cigar smokers are four to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus than non-smokers.

Quitting smoking can significantly improve your health as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette and continuing 15 or more years after you quit.

The longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk for developing lung cancer. However, quitting smoking does greatly improve your health and decrease your risk for lung cancer and other health issues. Ten years after quitting smoking, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.

The benefits of quitting over time

  • Twenty minutes after you quit smoking: Your heart rate drops to normal.
  • 12 hours after you quit smoking: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • Two weeks to three months after you quit smoking: Your lung function begins to improve.
  • One year after you quit smoking: The added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s risk.
  • Five years after you quit smoking: Your risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s; your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, cervix or bladder is half that of a smoker’s risk.
  • Ten years after you quit smoking: The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s.
  • Fifteen years after you quit smoking: Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

If you are ready to quit smoking, talk to your healthcare team about creating a smoking cessation plan, to help you achieve a heathier, tobacco-free life.

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