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Is smoking really affecting your lifestyle: stop it now or not?

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Lungs saying cigarette that "You take my breath away" sarcastically

The Meme Truth

We've all had a chuckle at memes before. The image you see above – lungs giving a sarcastic compliment to a cigarette – may have made you smile or even giggle. But if we pause and think about the reality that this meme reflects, it becomes less amusing and more alarming. The punchline of this meme holds a serious truth: smoking does take our breath away, and not in the romantic sense of the phrase.

The Lifelong Affair with Smoking

Old man with smoke coming from mouth

If you're a smoker or know one, you're probably familiar with the frequent justifications: "I'm just a social smoker," "I only smoke when I'm stressed," or the classic, "I can quit whenever I want." But what starts as an occasional indulgence can rapidly turn into a lifelong addiction, with repercussions that permeate every aspect of our lives.

Let's Talk Numbers: When Do The Symptoms Really Start?

Compairson image of before and after effects of smoking

Smoking doesn't wait for a decade to show its ugly side. Many believe that smoking-related issues only crop up after many, many years. While it's true that certain diseases like lung cancer can take years to develop, the ill effects of smoking start affecting your body much earlier.

The Instant Aftermath:
  • Within minutes: Each puff increases your blood pressure and heart rate.

  • 20-30 minutes: Your hands and feet become colder due to constricted blood vessels.

Short-Term Effects (Days to Months):
  • After 2 days: Your senses of taste and smell begin to dull.

  • In 3 days: The nicotine is almost entirely out of your system, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms like irritability, mood swings, and headaches.

  • Several months in: Persistent coughing starts. This is the result of tar building up and paralyzing the tiny hairs in your lungs, making it harder to clear out mucus and dirt.

Medium-Term Effects (1-10 years):
  • After 1 year: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is 50% higher than a non-smoker's.

  • 5 years in: The arteries and blood vessels begin to narrow, leading to reduced blood flow. This can result in poor wound healing and increased risk of infections.

  • Within 10 years: The risk of lung cancer is nearly half that of someone who does not smoke. However, it is significantly higher than someone who has never smoked. Your chances of developing cancers of the mouth, pancreas, throat, kidney, and bladder also increase.

Long-Term Effects (10+ years):
  • 15 years and beyond: The risk of coronary heart disease remains elevated, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) becomes a significant concern.

  • 20 years in: The risk of death from smoking-related causes, including both lung disease and cancer, is significantly high. Your lung function has also notably deteriorated, making daily activities increasingly difficult.

  • 30+ years: Continued smoking makes it almost inevitable to suffer from some form of severe respiratory ailment, whether it's chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or another COPD form.

These timelines are not just statistics; they paint a picture of how immediate and prolonged the consequences of smoking can be.

Beyond Health: Lifestyle Impacts

Wallet and cash burning with smoke signifying money getting wasted on smoking

  • Relationships: Have you ever noticed non-smokers wrinkling their noses when they get close? The lingering smell of tobacco can be a turn-off for many. And if you have kids, the impact of second-hand smoke can be hazardous.

  • Finances: The cumulative cost of those cigarette packs can sum up to an amount that might have bought you a vacation or paid off a significant chunk of a loan. Needless to say, a vacation is much more fun and interesting than minutes of escape we find using nicotine.

Also, a lot of us ignore one more important financial factor of smoking: Health Insurance. Find out more about it here
  • Aesthetics: Smoking ages your skin, stains your teeth and can lead to hair thinning. Is that cigarette still worth it?

  • Physical Performance: Whether it's climbing a flight of stairs or running after a bus, smokers often find themselves panting way quicker than their non-smoking counterparts.

Take A Deep Breath, And Think

A stone with "Addiction" written on it, broken with a hammer

Literally. Feel the air fill your lungs. If you're a smoker, it might be tinged with a wheeze, or you might not draw in as deeply as you could. Every puff you take is a step away from being able to breathe freely and easily.

The meme at the beginning? It's not just a joke. It's a reality, condensed into a few words, reflecting a truth that smokers live every day.

If this article makes you think even for a second, share it. And if you're a smoker, consider reaching out for help to quit. It's never too late to take your breath back. Remember, you deserve more than what smoking has to offer.

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