Reasons Why You Should Quit Smoking

Yes I agree with you, that very familiar phrase “the Federal Ministry of Health warns that smokers are liable to die young” or the older older one “…cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health” doesn’t really tell us exactly why or how cigarettes are harmful to us and I can see how this could cause little or no impact in discouraging smokers like you from the habit. So I’ll take my time to list out just 20 reasons why you should quit smoking. This list, however, is by no means exhaustive but I’m hoping it will be enough to “motivate” you to quit for good. Now the 20 reasons are as follows:

Lung Cancer – Research has shown that about 15% of all cases of lung cancer are of the small cell variety and almost all small cell lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking (this particular type of lung cancer is extremely rare in people who have never smoked in their life). Small cell lung cancer is also known to grow very fast, in fact it is the most aggressive type of lung cancer, capable of spreading very quickly to other parts of the body like the brain, liver and bones.
Other Lung Diseases – Apart from lung cancer, smoking also increases your risk of developing other lung diseases like chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and so on. A component of cigarette smoke known as tar paralyzes the cilia in your airways (bronchi and trachea). These cilia are microscopic hair-like structures found in your airways and their function is to help get rid of dust particles and germs from your lungs, bronchi and trachea. So when the cilia become paralyzed by smoking, dust particles and germs can then accumulate and lead to inflammation or infection. Cigarette smoke can also adversely affect the air-sacs in your lungs, making breathing difficult and painful as in emphysema, or the blood vessels in your lungs resulting in pulmonary circulation diseases.
Heart Attack – The heart is the only muscle mass in your body which continues to work (without rest) throughout your life, requiring an adequate supply of well oxygenated blood to carry out its function and this supply of oxygenated blood, under normal circumstances, always matches the level of activity of your heart (increasing with increased activity and decreasing with decreased activity). Whenever the supply of oxygenated blood cannot match increased heart activity, it results in chest pain know as Angina, which could lead to heart attack and, ultimately, death in severe cases. Smoking has several effects on your blood vessels, including those supplying your heart with oxygen-rich blood. It tends to increase the level of cholesterol in your blood, make blood more viscous (thicker), reduce the oxygen carrying capacity of blood and make blood vessels narrower and stiffer, all of which can limit the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, especially in times of increased activity. Hence, smoking significantly increases your risk of getting a heart attack.
Hypertension – Smoking also increases your risk of developing hypertension by causing narrowing and stiffening of blood vessels, thereby increasing resistance to blood flow in the vessels, hence increasing blood pressure as a result. Also nicotine which is a component of cigarette smoke causes blood vessels to constrict, which increases resistance to blood flow. Smoking also stimulates the body to secrete adrenalin which also causes blood vessels to constrict, further increasing the resistance to blood flow, hence increasing blood pressure as well.
Other Heart Diseases – Apart from heart attacks, smoking also causes other coronary heart diseases (diseases associated with reduced blood supply to the heart) by reducing the oxygen carrying capacity of blood, increases blood clotting capacity and damaging cells lining the walls of coronary vessels. Also, I’ve already mentioned that smoking can lead to hypertension and hypertension itself increases the work load of the heart, which in the long run can result in hypertensive heart disease or even congestive cardiac failure.
Stroke – Stroke, otherwise known as cerebrovascular disease (CVD) or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs as a result of insufficient oxygenated blood supply to a part of the brain. So, smoking has similar effects on the blood vessels supplying the brain as it has on those supplying the heart and this can lead to stroke when the oxygenated blood supply does not match the demand by the brain. Again, hypertension, which can be caused by smoking, can also cause stroke.
Peripheral Vascular Diseases – The effects of smoking on blood circulation and the amount of oxygen carried can also occur in peripheral (distant from the heart) areas of the body such as the legs, abdomen and arms, given rise to various types of peripheral vascular diseases like Thromboangiitis Obliterans, Visceral arterial occlusive disease, Abdominal aortic aneurysm, and so on. The effects of smoking can also lead to a condition known as intermittent claudication where the blood vessels supplying the legs are compromised, hence resulting in pain in the legs when walking and relief on rest (this pain however could gradually become continuous, regardless of the level of activity of the legs, as the condition worsens). Smokers could also develop vascular leg ulcers or gangrenous limbs, which may require amputation.
Erectile Dysfunction – erection occurs as a result of increased blood flow to spongy tissues in the penis. The chemicals in cigarette smoke also affect the blood vessels supplying the male sexual organ, limiting the amount and rate of blood flow in and out of the organ, hence resulting in erectile abnormalities, such as weak erection and difficulty sustaining an erection. Smoking is also known to reduce libido (desire for sex), which can further affect your ability to perform sexually.
Infertility – the chemicals in cigarette smoke are known to adversely affect sperm quality in several ways, including longevity and motility, so this can result in male infertility. The chemicals can also cause damage to the female ovaries and interfere with the production of oestrogen, a hormone that regulates ovulation, hence potentially causing female infertility as well. So if your wife also smokes or is exposed to it from your smoking (i.e. environmental, passive or second-hand smoking), then she’s at risk of developing infertility.
Infections – Exposure to cigarette smoke also increases your susceptibility to infections through direct structural damage, as already explained in the lungs, and also through adverse effects on your immune system.
Kidney Disease – You stand a significantly greater risk of developing not only kidney cancer, but also chronic kidney disease and a faster progression of diabetic nephropathy (i.e. if you develop diabetic nephropathy in the first place).
Other Cancers – Tobacco and tobacco smoke contains several chemical and radioactive carcinogens which are capable of causing cancer in many other parts of the human body outside the lungs, including oral cancer, kidney cancer, larynx (voice box) cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, blood cancer, and so on.
Pregnancy Complications – The effects on pregnancy, whether from active or passive smoking, include an increased risk of miscarriages, premature labour, placental abruptio (detached placenta), and so on.
Low Birth Weight Babies – There is an increased risk of babies born to mothers exposed to tobacco smoke to be born with low birth weight, with all the health problems associated with this condition.
Skin Wrinkles – Wrinkling of the skin is an unavoidable process associated with aging, but some environmental factors can increase the rate of wrinkling, including over-exposure to sunlight and also exposure to tobacco smoke.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – also known as SIDS, this syndrome is described as a sudden, unexpected and unexplainable death in a child under 1yr of age. Though the cause of this syndrome is unknown, several factors are known to increase the risk of SIDS occurring, including exposure of the baby to tobacco smoke while in the womb and also after birth.
Respiratory and Ear Infections in Children – Research has shown that exposure of children to environmental or passive smoke significantly increases their risk of developing recurrent respiratory and ear infections.
Stress – Several studies have revealed that smokers are prone to higher levels of everyday stress than non-smokers.
Social and Behavioral – Researchers have shown that smokers have about a 53% greater chance of divorce than non-smokers.
Accidents – Smoking is also a cause of death through fire hazards and road traffic accidents.