Why Stop Smoking?
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking is one of our nation’s top causes of early death, but your lungs can begin to heal as soon as you quit. So, if you find yourself reaching for a cigarette when you’re stressed or anxious, it’s urgent that you realize the cost: over your lifetime, smoking will only add to your stress by taking away your good health. Whatever satisfaction you get from smoking is going to be somewhat short-lived; cigarettes will shorten your life.
The Impact of Smoking on Health
If you want to live a long and healthy life, breaking the nicotine addiction will be very important. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm and blood clots. Like a line of tumbling dominoes, one risk creates another. Blood clots and hardened arteries increase your risks for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need for better health.
What Can I Do to Stop Smoking?
You can do whatever it takes to quit! One day at a time, one hour at a time, you can learn to replace the craving for cigarettes with healthier options. If you slip and have a smoke, you haven’t “failed.” Instead, you have an opportunity to notice why you did it, and make different choices next time.
For more support, visit our Quit Smoking website. Talk with your health-care provider or look for a quit-smoking program. Many hospitals and public health departments offer hotlines and group support with trained staff to help you make new habits for a smoke-free life.
Parents, talk with your kids about cigarette smoking. Many people begin their addiction during adolescence and spend years wishing they had never started. Learning to say ‘no’ to cigarettes is learning to say ‘yes’ to your good health.
Stop Smoking Success Story:
Mychael Patterson: AHA Volunteer Spokesperson for HIV & Your Heart
Who says quitters never win?
A few years ago, Mychael was smoking more than a pack a day, but today he gratefully celebrates a smoke-free and drug-free life. “It’s great to be able to taste my food, to take the stairs at work, to be present and to fully experience my life without needing a substance or a smoke to make me feel better. I thought smoking made me feel better, but it didn’t,” says Mychael. “I was tired all the time, I was coughing, I was limited in what I could do, and always had to make sure I had enough money for cigarettes. I thought I could live without the food, but I’ve got to have money for the cigarettes!”
So much has changed for Mychael since then and today he embraces the opportunity to share his journey to clean living. Mychael serves as a behavioral intervention specialist helping others adopt a can-do attitude toward changing unhealthy behaviors. “You don’t have to try to change forever in one day,” he says. “You simply make the choice to change by embracing it one day at a time. After a while, the changes add up, and before you know it, you’re better.” Yes, change is possible, and you can quit! Watch more of Mychael’s story: Mychael’s Decision to Live Smoke-Free; HIV: One Man’s Journey Toward Wellness.