Consider giving yourself and your family the best gift this year by quitting smoking. This is a gift that keeps on giving to you, your family members, friends and pets. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do even if you have smoked for many years.
Children and non-smoking adults benefit when a family member quits smoking because their exposure to secondhand smoke is eliminated. Secondhand smoke is the combination of commercial tobacco smoke exhaled by a smoking person and the smoke produced by the burning end of the cigarette. Secondhand smoke has over 7,000 chemicals, of which 250 are known to be poisonous and more than 69 are known to cause cancer. A person who is 20 inches from a burning cigarette can breathe in 10 times more of the toxic chemicals than the person smoking the cigarette and spending one hour in a smoke-filled room is equal to smoking one cigarette.
Secondhand smoke exposure can cause serious health problems in children. Children’s lungs suffer due to small lung growth, wheezing, coughing, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Children with asthma suffer asthma attacks when they breathe secondhand smoke and they have more severe and frequent asthma attacks which puts their life in danger. Secondhand smoke also causes children to suffer from ear infections and fluid in the ears that often requires operations to have tubes put in for drainage. Secondhand smoke also causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) that is the leading cause of death in otherwise healthy infants.
Pets also benefit when family members quit smoking because their exposure to secondhand smoke is removed.
Dogs exposed to tobacco smoke have an increased risk of cancer of the nasal cavity and sinuses. The more tobacco smoke in the home, the higher the risk. Cats living in smoking households are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma (form of cancer). The risk for malignant lymphoma increases with the amount of time a pet is exposed to secondhand smoke and cats with 5 or more years of breathing secondhand smoke are more than three times more likely to develop this type of cancer. Additionally, pets just don’t breathe secondhand smoke from the air, pets eat cigarette toxins from their fur when they lick and groom themselves.
For Smokers the benefits of quitting smoking start within 20 minutes when their heart rate and blood pressure drops to normal and at 12 hours after quitting smoking a person’s carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal. Within 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting a person’s circulation improves and lung function increases. Between 1 and 9 months after quitting the coughing and shortness of breath decreases. Cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs that increases an individual’s ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduces the risk of lung infections. One year after quitting smoking the extra risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a current smoker’s. At five years the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half and cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. After 2-5 years the stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker. Ten years after quitting the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking and the risk of cancer of the voice box and pancreas also decreases and 15 years after quitting the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
Quitting while a person is younger reduces health risks at a higher level however, quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke. The South Dakota Quitline is a proven FREE resource that helps people quit a variety of ways. Call toll free 1-866-737-8487 or 1-866-SD-QUITS or www.SDQuitLine.com Quitting smoking is the gift that keeps on giving!