Smoking is an addiction. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine, a drug that is addictive and can make it very hard, but not impossible, to quit. More than 400,000 deaths in the United States each year are from smoking-related illnesses. Smoking greatly increases your risks for lung cancer and many other cancers.
Smoking harms not just the smoker, but also family members, coworkers and others who breathe the smoker's cigarette smoke, called secondhand smoke. Among infants to 18 months of age, secondhand smoke is associated with as many as 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia each year.
Secondhand smoke from a parent's cigarette increases a child's chances for middle ear problems, causes coughing and wheezing, and worsens asthma conditions.
If both parents smoke, a teenager is more than twice as likely to smoke than a young person whose parents are both non-smokers. In households where only one parent smokes, young people are also more likely to start smoking.
Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to deliver babies whose weights are too low for the babies' good health. If all women quit smoking during pregnancy, about 4,000 new babies would not die each year.
Quitting smoking makes a difference right away - you can taste and smell food better. Your breath smells better. Your cough goes away. This happens for men and women of all ages, even those who are older. It happens for healthy people as well as those who already have a disease or condition caused by smoking. Quitting smoking cuts the risk of lung cancer, many other cancers, heart disease, stroke, other lung diseases, and other respiratory illnesses.
Ex-smokers have better health than current smokers. Ex-smokers have fewer days of illness, fewer health complaints, and less bronchitis and pneumonia than current smokers.
Quitting smoking saves money. A pack-a-day smoker who pays $2 per pack can expect to save more than $700 per year. It appears that the price of cigarettes will continue to rise in coming years, as will the financial rewards of quitting.