The dangers of smoking are well known. It is one of the biggest causes of death and illness worldwide. However, there are still countries in Europe, like Austria, where smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places, is allowed and supported by the population and government. Despite the huge damage to public health and the fact that 13,000 people die of tobacco-related causes in Austria each year, support for smoking still remains.
Smokers are at risk of developing many different cancers, coronary heart disease and various lung diseases, as well as having an increased chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Everybody knows that smoking kills, but you may not realize just how dramatically quitting smoking can improve how you feel.
Quitting smoking can be very challenging at first. People may not realize just how addictive nicotine is until they try to stop using it. Knowing about all of the positive changes happening to your body when you quit can help give you the motivation to beat your cravings. Your body has an amazing ability to heal and repair damage when supported with good nutrition, adequate quality sleep and consistent movement. Healing from the damage done by smoking cigarettes is no different.
Here is what happens to your body when you stop smoking:
- Within 20 minutes of finishing your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal and your body temperature stabilizes.
- In just 24 hours without a cigarette, your chance of having a heart attack decreases.
- Forty-eight hours after your last cigarette all of the carbon monoxide and most of the nicotine will be out of your body. Your ability to taste and smell will also improve.
- Within two weeks the blood circulating in your gums and teeth will return to that of a non-smoker.
- Between two and four weeks any anxiety, depression, insomnia and anger you may have experienced while quitting will disappear. Your lung function will improve and your risk of having a heart attack will decrease. You might notice less coughing and shortness of breath and a renewed ability for greater activity.
- In the 12 months after you quit smoking, your risk of coronary artery disease, heart attacks and strokes drops by 50% and will continue to drop each year you don’t smoke.
However determined you are to quit, there may be times when you struggle. To stay on track, try to:
- Keep busy
- Drink plenty of water
- Buy yourself a special treat with the money you’re saving.
- Avoid other smokers
- Find a quitting partner
- Avoid triggers
Awareness of the fact that, when someone smokes a cigarette, most of the smoke doesn’t go into their lungs but into the air, where anyone nearby can breathe it, can help you quit. Secondhand smoke seriously harms children and adults. By going smoke-free, you could improve not only your wellbeing but also the wellbeing of your friends, family and other people around you.
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