Smoking causes illness and disability and damages almost every organ in the body. It causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic health problems. The effect extends beyond the smoker. For example, during pregnancy it increases the risk of preterm birth (born too early) and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Passive smoking, which affects 58 million American non-smokers, also causes stroke, lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of SIDS, impaired lung function, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks.
Cigarette smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body. It causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
Cigarette smoking can cause lung disease by damaging the airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in the lungs. It can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It accounts for as many as 8 in 10 COPD-related deaths. If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an asthma attack or make an attack worse.
Heart Disease and Stroke
Cigarette smoking is a major cause of heart disease and stroke and causes 1 in every 4 deaths from heart disease and stroke. Nonsmokers who breathe secondhand smoke at home or work have a 25% to 30% higher risk of heart disease and a 20% to 30% higher risk of stroke. It can damage the body by:
Reduce on smoking is a conscious change in the amount you smoke. Even if the quit date doesn’t come for a long time, it can prepare you to quit at a later date. Reducing smoking has some limitations and this should not be a goal because it is not clear that smoking reduces health risks.
People who smoke only a few cigarettes experience more health problems than non-smokers.
People who reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke tend to change the way they breathe to get more nicotine from each cigarette. This process is called nicotine compensation.
It can be difficult to maintain a lower smoking rate over time.
It’s best to use cutting down on it as a step towards quitting, not as an end in itself.
Methods to reduce smoking
Methods to reduce smoking include the following:
- Each week choose a few specific cigarettes to give up (for example, the ones you smoke in the car on your way to work).
- Gradually increase the time between cigarettes.
- Smoke only during odd or even hours.
- Limit your smoking to certain places (outside, not at work, not in the car).
- Wait as late in the day as possible to start smoking.
- Try going one day without smoking.
Make a plan to quit smoking
Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Sticking to the “not a drag” rule can really help.
Whenever you find yourself in difficulty, say to yourself, “I won’t even have a single drag”, and stick with this until the cravings pass.
Think ahead to times where it might be difficult (a party, for instance), and plan your actions and escape routes in advance.
A craving can last 5 minutes. Before you give up, make a list of 5-minute strategies.
For example, you could leave the party for a minute, dance or go to the bar.
And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times.
Sources: CDC, University of Michigan Health