It is not a secret that smoking causes health issues, and you are probably aware of that fact. Nowadays, cigarette packagings have warning labels, but many still disregard them and continue smoking despite these warnings and the severe consequences.
Smoking is one of the most common causes of early death in the world. In fact, it is estimated that around 8 million people die early every year due to smoking, with 7 million from direct exposure and approximately 1.2 million due to secondhand smoke.
But even with this tremendous number, the tobacco industry still thrives because many still subscribe to this vice. Nicotine addiction is so severe that it is estimated that around 1.3 billion people in the world are smokers, with 80% of them from low to middle-income countries.
While smoking is known to cause serious health effects like cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, and other risks, it also brings a substantial down impact to your finances. So the actual cost of smoking is way beyond health and well-being, as it also affects a person’s financial health.
Cigarette smoking in the US
Smoking demographics in the United States have already declined from 20.9% back in 2005 to only 14.0% in 2019. However, more than 16 million Americans still live with smoking-related health issues, and around 34.2 million people still smoke cigarettes. Because of this huge number, it is estimated that the United States has more than 480,000 deaths per year due to smoking.
Among this number, 15.6% are men smokers, while 12.0% are women. In addition, 23% are non-Hispanic American Indians, and 19% have mixed-race heritage.
Each day, it is also estimated that around 2000 people below 18 years old smoke their first cigarette, while over 300 people are already daily smokers. Therefore, it is safe to say that thousands of people are already indulging in a bad lifestyle as early as 18.
Based on the available data from America Health Ranking, smokers in the United States are usually adults ages 25 above who did not graduate from high school (25.3%) and have an annual household income below $25,000 only (25.6%).
Implications of smoking in health
On average, smokers die ten years earlier than non-smokers. It has been estimated that over 100 million people died in the 20th century and can rise to one billion in the 21st century.
Smoking is also considered the leading cause of preventable death around the world. In addition, it is known that smokers acquire serious diseases, but what are they exactly? What does smoking do to your body?
The common question related to cigarette death per year is: how many people die from smoking? In reality, around 480,000 deaths are recorded each year in the United States alone. This means at least one person related to tobacco death per year for every five deaths recorded.
Smoke-related illnesses also kill more people than combined deaths caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents.
In addition, 90% of all lung cancer deaths are related to smoking. It is also estimated that women die because of lung cancer more than breast cancer each year. 80% of death from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (OCPD) are also caused by smoking.
Overall, the death risk numbers have increased over the last 50 years in the U.S. in both men and women because of cigarette smoking.
Increased health risk
Smoking also increases your health risk and is likely to cause you a disease that could lead to death. In addition, smokers can develop more than 50 serious health conditions that may be fatal or cause irreversible health damage.
Coronary heart disease
One of the risks of tobacco use is developing coronary heart disease. Most CHD cases are caused by smoking as your heart’s arteries can’t supply enough oxygenated blood to your heart. It is estimated that smoking can increase your CHD risks by two to four times, becoming the leading cause of death in the United States.
Smoking causes high blood pressure and lowers good cholesterol levels in your blood. It also thickens the blood, resulting in clots and increasing your chances of having strokes and heart attacks. It is estimated that the increased risk of stroke due to smoking is two to four times.
Developing lung cancer (men vs. women)
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer for men and women. It is also estimated that there will be 130,180 deaths from this disease as of 2022, making it the leading cancer death.
Smoking causes an increased risk of lung cancer in men by 25 times and women by 25.7 times.
Smoking leads to poor health and can make your life harder. It decreases your ability to work, get around, and even exercise due to many health disorders and serious effects on the body.
Diseases caused by smoking are often severe, fatal, and have a high mortality rate. It commonly includes major cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses and cancer.
Smokers have a higher chance of acquiring heart diseases as smoking also affects the major organs of the circulatory system. In fact, stroke and coronary heart diseases are the most common heart illnesses brought by smoking as it damages blood vessels. It also makes receiving oxygenated blood to your heart difficult.
Lung diseases caused by smoking, such as COPD, are often long-term. This is because of the damages to your airways and alveoli found in the lungs. Smoking also increases the probability of having pneumonia, tuberculosis, and chronic bronchitis among smokers and can worsen pre-existing conditions like asthma.
About 20% of all cancers and 30% of cancer deaths in the United States are caused by smoking. While lung cancer is common to develop among smokers, the risks of having cancers in different organs such as the bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, and more are also possible.
Other health risks
The danger of smoking is not only limited to increasing the chances of acquiring diseases; it also affects the health of different systems in our bodies.
Reproductive health (men and women)
Smoking can cause serious effects on pregnancy. It affects the health of the mother and the baby. There is a huge chance of early delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriages among women smokers.
Male smokers have a higher risk of erectile dysfunction because smoking disrupts the blood flow in a man’s penis. Smoking also impacts sperm count among men, reducing fertility and may increase the risk of miscarriages and congenital disabilities to their child.
Women who smoke can bring serious problems to their children when pregnant. Smoking slows a baby’s growth before birth. It can also lead to premature birth and cause child health problems.
Pregnant women who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke risk their child having SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. Smoking can also cause infants weaker lungs and low birth weight.
Another risk of tobacco use is having weak bones, which increases the chances of broken bones, fractures, and other bone-health problems among smokers. In addition, women past childbearing years who smoke are more likely at risk than non-smokers.
Gums and Teeth
Cigarette smoking is known to give you bad breath, stained teeth, darker lips, and other teeth or gum problems. This also increases the chance of tooth loss and having gum diseases.
Tobacco affects the health of your eyes. Developing cataracts (clouding lenses of the eyes) is possible for smokers. There is also an increased risk of having age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which damages a small spot near the retina. If serious, it can eventually lead to blindness.
Smokers have 30-40% higher chances of developing diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes. Treating diabetes would be harder for smokers because nicotine lessens the effectiveness of insulin and increases your blood sugar levels.
Chemicals found in cigarettes can disrupt the balance of your immune system. This leads to higher chances of many immune system-related diseases among smokers because of the lowered immune system function.
People who smoke are at greater risk of rheumatoid arthritis. This autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the healthy tissues in the body, mistaking them as foreign invaders.
Economic cost of smoking
The economic cost of smoking is also tremendous, having more than $300 billion a year. Here are some of the breakdowns about the effects of smoking on finances.
If you’re wondering how much money an average smoker spends on cigarettes a year, it averages around $2,292, assuming you’re smoking one pack of cigarettes a day. This means that you’re spending around $44 a week or $188 a month. Again, this is based on the average cost of a pack of cigarettes at $6.28.
If you’ve been a smoker for ten years, you have already spent $22,290 alone in buying cigarettes, excluding the 6% annual increase. Adding the price increase, you would spend $34,318 in 10 years and $91,671 if you continue smoking for 20 years.
However, the situation is different if you live in a city or state where cigarettes are expensive. The priciest pack of cigarettes is found in New York, where one pack has an average cost of $12.85. You will be spending $90 in a week and around $4,690 in one year.
You may want to calculate your smoking expenses to check how the cost of smoking cigarettes can definitely dampen your finances while also ruining your health in the long run.
The financial cost of smoking that governments spend in a year is also a hefty sum. On average, the government spends around $112.4 billion on all related smoking expenses. If there are no smokers, the money could fund other necessary expenses like colleges, health research, health care, and more.
Smoking uses up a large amount of money for health care. For example, more than $225 billion is used for direct medical care for adults; the remaining $156 billion in productivity is lost due to premature deaths and around $5.6 billion due to secondhand smoke exposure.
By 2021, the United States expects that the annual health costs for smoking will reach around $170 billion, according to Statista.
Advertisement and promotion
Approximately $8.2 billion or about $22.5 billion is spent by the government promoting and advertising the tobacco industry. This can be translated to the fact that the government spends nearly $1 million per hour.
Prevention and control
States are spending lots of money to control and promote smoking prevention among users. However, the tobacco prevention and control efforts failed to meet CDC’s expectations in 2020. This is because only 2.7% of the total tax collection from cigarettes is used for smoking prevention, amounting to only $740 million from the $27.2 billion tobacco taxes.
Right now, there are stop smoking support programs that help smokers quit and achieve a healthier lifestyle, like smoking cessation programs. Many are in the form of counseling, coaching, and classes.
How to Quit Smoking?
Have you been asking why cigarette smoking is hard to quit once you start doing it? Smokers who want to adopt a healthier lifestyle may find cigarettes very irresistible. Before you start to ask how to quit smoking, you should know why it is hard to quit first.
Nicotine is the main culprit why cigarette smoking is so addictive. It is an addictive drug that triggers the brain to tell the body to release chemicals that make you feel good. As you continue smoking, your brain will slowly get used to the drug and will always ask it over time.
When smokers attempt to quit smoking, they would often feel the urge to light a cigarette; otherwise, they would feel irritated, anxious, upset, or generally uncomfortable. This stage is called withdrawal. Unfortunately, most smokers can’t resist.
Questions to ask yourself
If you’re determined to quit smoking and be healthy, it will definitely be a challenging but still a possible journey. The best thing you can do is evaluate yourself first, and this can help you quit. So here are some questions to ask yourself if you want to quit smoking:
Are you a heavy smoker?
How many cigarettes do you light per day? When do you usually smoke? How many packs can you light a day? Figuring it out if you’re a heavy smoker would help you set expectations on how long it would take for you to get rid of smoking.
Are there certain activities, places, or people you associate with smoking?
Quitting would be hard if many triggers surround you. Identify activities, places, or people that would most likely push you to light up a cigarette. This helps you know which ones to avoid and how to deal with them.
Do you reach for cigarettes when you’re feeling stressed or down?
Most of the time, smokers reach for their cigarettes when they’re feeling stressed, down, pressured, and other negative emotions. Smoking cigarettes help them feel calm and great because of nicotine. Ask yourself if you’re also looking for cigarettes whenever you’re feeling unpleasant. This enables you to be more aware and help you in your quit smoking plan along the way.
Why do you want to stop smoking?
Do you want to quit to save money? To be healthier? To give your family and friends a smoke-free environment? To live longer? Identifying your reasons can remind you all the time why you want to quit. This is beneficial for you because your reasons would serve as your motivations.
How can I quit?
Ask yourself what possible actions you can do to quit smoking. You can also do some more intensive research about tips, techniques, and other options you can take to replace cigarette smoking.
Overall, asking these questions to yourself would help you identify the reasons and triggers that urge you to smoke. Keeping them in mind would let you know which courses of action are the best to take, such as enrolling in a stop-smoking program or having a therapist.
Creating your stop smoking plan
After honestly answering the questions above, you may want to start your plan to quit smoking. Your quitting journey would most likely be hard at first, but sticking to reasons to quit and to your plan would eventually help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Here are a few tips you can do and add to your quit smoking plan:
Set a quit date
Set a quit date when you will start your plan. This is for you to have ample time to prepare yourself, such as getting rid of all of your cigarettes, reminding yourself of your reasons and motivation, and other necessary preparations.
Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit
You can tell your family, friends, and colleagues about your quit smoking plan. You can ask them for moral support or help you in your journey. Having a good and supportive environment would also boost your motivation.
Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting
Quitting would most likely be difficult, especially when you face withdrawal symptoms. You need to anticipate and plan how to deal with them effectively so you will not go back from the start.
Here are some symptoms of quitting smoking you may experience along the way. Remember that you will feel better eventually, as withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. Try as hard as you can to resist them as it will only be difficult in the first few days, weeks, or months:
- An intense craving for cigarettes: Your cravings would get less potent as days pass as you resist the urge.
- Feeling upset, irritated, or grouchy: Feeling some unpleasant emotions is a normal withdrawal symptom. This is because your brain is no longer receiving nicotine, making your body feel good.
- Trouble sleeping and concentrating: You will likely experience having trouble concentrating and sleeping at night. If it’s really bothering you, you can ask for professional help to ease these problems.
Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car, and work
Remove any cigarettes, tobacco, and other smoking-related products such as ashtray, lighter, and matches. If possible, wash your clothes and clean your house, car, and workspace that have a lingering smell of cigarettes. Seeing your smoking supplies and smelling the scent of cigarettes could trigger you to light up again.
Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit
Consult your doctor as they may have some suggestions to help you quit smoking. There might also be some treatments or other non-nicotine medications that can help you with your withdrawal symptoms.
Stock up on substitutes
Look for alternatives for your cigarettes. They can help you satisfy your cravings or habit of having something in your mouth. For example, you can replace your cigarettes with sugarless gum, candy, straws, and others. Put them where you usually place your pack of tobacco or ashtray.
Tips on stopping smoking
If you’ve been a smoker for many years, you might be clueless about how to stop smoking. Here are some tips to quitting smoking to help you overcome your bad habit.
Identify and avoid your smoking triggers.
List down all the smoking triggers that you have. These may be places, activities, or people linked to your smoking. Identifying them would help you avoid them and eventually break them as triggers.
Keep a craving journal.
Every time you are craving a cigarette, write them down in a craving journal. This can help you zero in on your triggers and smoking patterns. You can log the time, intensity, what you were doing, who you were with, and other details.
Smoking to relieve unpleasant feeling
Most smokers smoke to relieve unpleasant feelings like stress, loneliness, pressure, depression, and anxiety. Try to look for alternatives that can also provide you the same satisfaction and relief that smoking gives, such as meditation or exercise.
Tips for avoiding common triggers
Many of our day-to-day actions are linked to smoking. As a result, they can serve as your triggers, and you might face some difficulty avoiding them.
When drinking alcohol
Most smokers light up a cigarette when they are drinking alcohol. However, you can avoid them by switching to non-alcoholic drinks or putting up an alternative for your cigarette, such as eating food.
When with other smokers
Seeing other people smoke their cigarettes would be very tempting for you to do the same. If you know other smokers, try to tell them about your quitting plan. Doing so would help you continue as they can try to understand you and avoid smoking when they’re with you.
Some people smoke after having their meal. If you are the same, try to put up an alternative such as eating fruits, a dessert, or candy to replace your cigarette.
Taking a work break
Cigarette smoking during your work breaks can help you ease your tension and pressure from work. Whenever you’re taking a work break, try to join your non-smoker colleagues and get something to eat or drink with them to spend your break time.
Tips on overcoming cravings
Fighting the temptation to light up a cigarette would be hard. If you don’t know what to do when craving a cigarette, you can try these tips to help you fight your urge to smoke.
Delay (Distracting yourself)
Fortunately, cigarette cravings don’t last long. As long as you can distract yourself by doing other things like reading a book, watching TV, or running an errand, you can let your urge to smoke pass.
If you’re used to having cigarettes in your room, car, workspace, and other places, try to replace them with another oral substitute. These can be candies, chewing gum, or anything you can eat or chew in your mouth as a cigarette replacement.
Keep mind and hands busy
It is normal to have a cigarette craving whenever you’re not doing something. It can make you feel restless or fidgety. Try to keep your mind and hands busy by reading a book, listening to music, having a squeeze ball in your hand, and other things that would let you forget about smoking.
Replace smoking with drinking water. Whenever you’re craving a cigarette, drink a glass of water. Not only will it help you keep hydrated, but it will also flush the nicotine toxins out of your body.
Try to keep something that you can light aside from cigarettes. Mimicking the action of lighting tobacco, such as lighting a scented candle, can help you relax and let the craving of having a cigarette pass.
Get out of the tempting situation
Whenever you’re tempted, try to leave the place or room where you feel the urge to smoke. Instead, go back to trying out new things to distract yourself. For example, you can go for a walk, do an errand, or listen to music.
This can help reinforce yourself to quit smoking. Associating a reward whenever you resist smoking would make your quit smoking plan easier.
Try nicotine replacement therapy
Most smokers who also want to quit try nicotine replacement therapy. It is a medically-approved treatment that gives smokers low doses of nicotine without the other harmful substances found in cigarettes. It would help them ease their withdrawal symptoms when they quit smoking. Most nicotine products are given in gum, patches, sprays, lozenges, and other medications such as bupropion and varenicline.
When you’re tempted to try smoking, try to do some physical activities instead. Physical activities help to quit smoking. In fact, exercising for at least 50 minutes reduces cigarette craving and withdrawal symptoms.
You will likely experience shortness of breath at the start, but it will get better. Try to take light exercises in the meantime, such as walking, biking, dancing, yoga, and simple housework activities.
Quitting smoking can be quite frustrating for you. However, relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and massage can help ease your craving while releasing all of your stress.
Ask for some support for stopping smoking from your friends, family, and colleagues. You can also seek help from professionals and other support groups to reinforce your desire and motivation to stop smoking.
There are various quit smoking support programs you can find online. There are programs designed as text messages, applications, or social media that can help you execute your plan. Some programs are SmokefreeTXT, QuitGuide, and quitSTART applications.
Try alternative therapies
If you’re looking for alternative therapies that can help you quit, there are many smoking cessation methods to choose from:
Doing this therapy would put you in a deeply relaxed state and strengthen your motivation to quit. In fact, this is a popular option among smokers to help quit their smoking habit.
This is helpful to relieve withdrawal symptoms as it relaxes your body by triggering the release of natural pain relievers called endorphins.
Smoking is not only an addiction but also a habit. Seeking behavioral therapy can help you change your behavior, habits, and actions related to smoking.
Do some motivational therapy by reading books or seeking people to motivate you to quit smoking. Reinforcing your desire to achieve a healthy lifestyle can encourage you to continue.
Remind yourself why you quit
Always remind yourself of your reasons why you want to quit. You can also think of the benefits of quitting smoking, such as having a healthier body, a healthy lifestyle, less financial expenses, and others.
What to do if you relapse?
Smoking relapse is normal because it is not easy to quit smoking suddenly. You can try these tips if you have a quit smoking relapse:
Give yourself a break
Give yourself a break from quitting, as it can be quite stressful for you. You are not a failure every time you are having a relapse.
Get back on the non-smoking track as soon as possible
You may fail but never quit. Try your quit-smoking plan again and get back on track. Try to assess what was effective for you and not.
Look back at your quit log and feel good
Even if you relapse, it doesn’t mean that you made no progress in the past. Look back at your quit log and realize that even if it’s little and slow, you’re making progress.
Find the trigger
Try to assess what were the triggers that made you relapse. Then, try to plan to avoid or deal with them better than before.
Learn from experience
Revise your plan according to the techniques and tips that were effective. Stick to them as much as possible and avoid the techniques that didn’t work for you.
Call your doctor if you’re using medicine to help you quit
Seek professional advice and consult your doctor to help you quit. They will likely prescribe treatments and medications that can help you quit smoking, such as non-nicotine medications.