Passive smoking: protecting others
Quitting smoking isn’t only good for your health, it can also benefit the health of the people around you, including your loved ones.
Secondhand smoke is a combination of both smoke from the end of a burning cigarette and the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. Protecting others from passive smoking is one of the most obvious short-term benefits of quitting smoking.
The CDC continues to state that there is no way of avoiding the risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure and that even in adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the heart and blood vessels.
And it isn’t just adults that are at risk. Pregnant adults who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have newborns with lower birth weight, a higher risk of health complications and a higher risk of experiencing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Meanwhile children exposed to secondhand smoke can also suffer from a variety of health problems, ranging from ear infections to coughs and wheezes. Quitting smoking can ensure that you aren’t putting your friends and family at unnecessary risk.
Whether you want to get into sport or you simply want to be able to enjoy your day to day activities more easily, and without getting out of breath, you’ll quickly find that giving up smoking will be a huge help. This is because smoking significantly affects your cardiovascular health, narrowing your arteries and making it harder for blood to be pumped around your body efficiently. Smoking also affects your respiratory health, causing swelling of the airways and excess mucus in lung passages.
Fortunately, your cardiovascular and respiratory health will start to improve the minute you stop smoking. Within a month of quitting, your lung function should start to improve, and your risk of a heart attack is significantly reduced. This could make a huge difference to your overall health and fitness, particularly as you get older and lung capacity naturally diminishes. Exercise is a great distraction from nicotine cravings too.
How’s your sex life been lately? Many people are surprised to learn that there is growing evidence that smoking can have a negative effect on various areas of their sex lives, and we aren’t just talking about the lingering smell of smoke on your body and breath, which can be a turn off to non-smoking partners. The chemicals in cigarette smoke contain many toxins, many of which have been shown to affect a variety of important functions, including those related to sexual activities.
Experts suggest that quitting smoking can prevent problems such as:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of libido
- Issues with dryness/vaginal lubrication
- Reduced stamina
- Premature ejaculation
If that wasn’t enough, quitting smoking can also have a positive impact on fertility. This is because smoking is thought to decrease seminal volume, sperm count and sperm motility, while in women, it hinders ovarian function and accelerates the rate at which women lose their eggs. If a family is on your agenda, giving up smoking can increase your success in having children.
Improved mental health
It’s not uncommon for people who smoke to feel irritable, stressed and unhappy when they go for periods of time without a cigarette, but the relationship between smoking and mental health is much more complex. This is because nicotine triggers the release of a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a ‘feel-good’ chemical that helps to ease stress and anxiety and has other positive effects on the brain. Unfortunately, this false stimulation of dopamine encourages the brain to switch off its own dopamine production, making it harder to regenerate these same feelings without a hit of nicotine.
Some of the mental health benefits of quitting smoking can include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Lower stress levels
- Reduced risk of mood swings and depression
- Improved quality of life
In addition, by quitting smoking it may be possible for the dosage of some medicines used to treat mental health problems to be reduced.
Lower cost of living
How much money do you spend on smoking every week or month? It’s not only the health cost of smoking that is a big motivator in quitting cigarettes once and for all. Smoking is one of the most expensive daily habits in the world.
The average pack of 20 cigarettes in Canada now costs an eye-watering $13.86 – money that literally goes up in flames every time you smoke. With cigarette and tobacco prices constantly changing, it’s likely to cost you even more if you continue to smoke. Depending on how many cigarettes you inhale every day, you could save a small fortune by quitting.
That could be a deposit for a mortgage, several family holidays, a new car… the possibilities are endless, and you can start saving money straight away.