10 11 2022

If obesity is the platter on which morbidity and mortality are served, then smoking is the spoon with which they are eaten. It is not without reason that cigarette manufacturers are mandated to inform users that they are liable to die young. Studies have even shown that people who quit smoking can increase their life expectancies by about 10 years. This should not be too surprising since smoking is associated with a plethora of health conditions. Some use the aphorism, "something must kill a man" to justify this inimical habit, but the immense health benefits of quitting and the consequences of persisting might convince you otherwise:

  1. Smoking lowers the risk of coming down with 12 types of cancers: acute myeloid leukemia (AML), bladder, lung, cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney, liver, mouth, and throat (oral cavity and pharynx), pancreas, stomach, and larynx.
  2. Smoking may affect your friends and family negatively. Even if they are non-smokers, persons around you who inhale what you puff out are predisposed to certain conditions. Children who live with smokers are at risk of developing ear infections and chest colds. Babies born to mothers who smoke tend to be born prematurely or have low birth weight. Cigarettes are also important causes of accidental fires and subsequent deaths.
  3. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, venous thromboembolism, etc. In people who have already developed the disease, quitting reduces the risk of death.
  4. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of developing respiratory diseases. People who smoke may come down with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the long run. They are also at increased risk of respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
  5. Smokers age faster than non-smokers. Smoking induces biochemical changes in the skin that cause depletion of proteins and vitamin A in the skin, causing wrinkles and hastening the aging process.
  6. Smoking impairs oral health. Smoking causes yellowing of teeth, increased risk of plaque formation, and malodorous breath. Phew!
  7. Smoking reduces fertility. In men, smoking has been linked to erectile dysfunction and also diminishes sperm count, and motility, and distorts the shape of sperm in men. In women, smoking can result in recurrent miscarriages.
  8. Smoking strains your wallet. Do the maths and think of all the useful things that money could have done; a small investment perhaps.
  9. Smokers are more likely to lose their vision. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of cataract formation, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. If this is not an eye-opener, I don't know what else is.
  10. Smoking increases the risk of dementia with age. If you know what dementia is, you'd do almost anything to reduce your risk of coming down with this condition. About 14% of Alzheimer's cases globally have been linked to smoking.

Although it's much better to quit smoking early in life, it's never too late to stop smoking. Evidence shows that at any point in time a person stops smoking, their quality of life is bound to get better or at least, doesn't get worse than it already is. First, make the decision. Next, seek help. It's for the greater good.

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