When I was growing up in the 60s, over 40% of all adults smoked tobacco in the US, and almost everyone on TV and in the movies. Since then, smoking has taken a well-deserved hit in popularity, with rates continuing to decline to the present average of 16% of adults who smoke in the US.
Unfortunately, Indiana ranks in the top 10 of the Highest Smoking States! Almost 25% of Hoosiers smoke. This column is dedicated to help motivate someone to quit, or to encourage your teens to never, ever start!
The Addiction Factor
90% of all adult smokers start in their teens. Signs of addiction to nicotine appear just days or weeks after smoking the occasional cigarette, way before daily smoking begins. Teens often say “I can quit anytime”, but the facts prove this wrong. Almost half of teen smokers will try to quit before they reach adulthood but very few will succeed. 3 out of 4 will keep smoking into adulthood, even though they want to quit!
The Disease Factor
Smoking harms every organ of your body, causing a 25 times increased risk of developing lung cancer, and actively damages blood vessels, causing higher rates of heart attacks and stroke. We now know that smoking causes diabetes as well!
Within 5 years of smoking, lung capacity is measurably reduced, with the lung function of a smoker decreased 25% by age 45 and 50% by age 60. In fact, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Smoking causes more deaths than illegal drugs, HIV, alcohol, motor vehicle injuries and firearm injuries put together!
The Vaping Factor
Although we do not yet have in-depth knowledge about how vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, affects health, we do know that e-cigarettes contain the addictive substance nicotine, and teens who vape are much more likely to become smokers than non-vapers. We also know e-cigarette vapors contain toxins like formaldehyde, although in lower levels than regular cigarettes.
The Quitting Factor
Quitting smoking starts your body on a path to recovery in lung function, healthier blood vessels and decreased risk for cancer soon after you stop. It will not be easy- smoking is an addiction and like recovery from any drug addiction, it might be the hardest thing you ever do, and the most satisfying. There are many places to get help. Ask your doctor or start here: https://smokefree.gov/ or here: http://www.lung.org/.
The average person tries to quit 8 to 11 times before they are successful, and the chance of success increases with each try. The majority- 80 to 90%- of those who quit for good, go "cold turkey" (with a lot of support from others in their lives) but other effective ways for certain people include nicotine replacement, hypnotherapy, or counseling. It is never too late to quit!