Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 11:54 am

Smoking has been woven into our society over the years. It is a rite of passage for teenagers to at least try a cigarette; the act has been immortalised as ‘cool’ in the movies and the smell of cigarette smoke is instantly recognised by most

Although people are aware of the health risks posed by smoking for themselves and those around them, many people still smoke. 

According to WHO, 8 million people around the world die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. Around 1.2 million of those deaths are caused by second-hand smoking. 

Prof Richard van Zyl-Smit, Pulmonologist and Head of the Lung Clinical Research Unit (LCRU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Lung Institute, says research conducted by the US-based National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) on the hazards of smoking and the benefits of quitting, acknowledges that smokers who start smoking early in adult life and do not quit, lose a decade of life expectancy versus non-smokers. 

Quitting smoking may not make you as healthy as a person who has never smoked, but it allows your lungs to heal almost instantly. 

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Lower blood pressure

According to Pfizer, Smoking raises your blood pressure and your heart rate almost immediately. Your blood pressure and heart rate normalise 20 minutes after your last cigarette. 

According to WebMD, High blood pressure can cause heart attacks, stroke, loss of vision and other illnesses related to heart disease. 

Reduced chances of lung cancer

Smoking increases your chances of having lung cancer and other diseases. When you stop smoking, your risks of contracting lung cancer gradually decrease. 

Orlando health says people who quit smoking are 50% less likely to develop lung cancer 10 years after they have their last cigarette. 

Reactivate your lungs cilia

Cilia are hair-like structures that move mucus and bacteria to the back of the throat, where these substances are swallowed. This helps the body get rid of mucus and clears the lungs.

Smoking destroys the cilia and makes them less functional. 

People who quit smoking can experience improved lung function within 5 months, gradually improving the longer they live cigarette free. 

This means quitters will experience fewer bouts of coughing and experience shortness of breath less often. 

Is quitting worth it?

Many smokers quit only s=to start smoking shortly after. Smoking is an addictive habit, and it isn’t always easy to stop. 

“It is important to note that withdrawal symptoms may be severe – but “won’t kill you” as some might think, withdrawal from nicotine can make it difficult to quit, but it is important to note that the symptoms usually dissipate within two to four weeks. Support from friends and family will help during those difficult days. Along with this, people believe that stopping smoking will cause them to put on weight, however, smoking has actually been shown to negatively affect one’s metabolism. With these points in mind it is important to note that quitting is possible and the benefits outweigh the negative impact of smoking,” concludes Professor van Zyl-Smit.


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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.