World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is observed around the world every year on 31 May. This yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the World Health Organization (WHO) is doing to fight against the use of tobacco, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.
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Saying goodbye to cigarettes always brings benefits for the person who smokes and for their environment. Based on scientific studies, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that smoking cessation increases life expectancy for smokers. The number of years varies depending on the age when the smoker kicks the habit.
If a person who smokes tobacco quits at 30 years of age, they will gain almost 10 years of life expectancy. Meanwhile, if you abandon it at 40 years of age, you gain 9 years of life expectancy, according to the WHO.
Meanwhile, when smokers are 50 years old and quit, they gain 6 years of life expectancy. By age 60, three years of life expectancy are gained. If the smoker has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, quitting (including the e-cigarette) provides a quick benefit: People who quit smoking after having a heart attack have a 50% lower chance of having another heart attack.
The decision to quit smoking can also be favorable for people who live with the smoker. Because quitting smoking reduces the additional risk of many diseases related to passive smoking in children, such as respiratory diseases (for example, asthma) and otitis.
In addition to increasing life expectancy, quitting smoking reduces the likelihood of impotence in the smoker, having difficulty getting pregnant, having premature births, or miscarriages.
The benefits of quitting tobacco today are almost immediate. After just 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate drops. Within 12 hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood returns to normal. Between two and 12 weeks, circulation improves, and lung function increases. Within one to nine months, the coughing and shortness of breath subside.
Within five to 15 years, the risk of having a cerebrovascular attack (CVA) is reduced to that of a non-smoker. In 10 years, the death rate from lung cancer drops to half that of a smoker. In 15 years, the risk of heart disease is the same as that of a non-smoker.
Some people, including healthcare professionals, believe that smoking helps reduce stress and other psychological symptoms and that quitting smoking could make your mental health problems worse. They also think that quitting smoking could damage relationships with friends, family, and co-workers.
However, the Cochrane review of scientific studies revealed that people who quit smoking for at least six weeks experience less depression, anxiety, and stress than people who continued to smoke. Those who quit smoking also experienced more positive feelings and greater psychological well-being. Furthermore, quitting smoking had no negative effect on the quality of people’s social relationships. On the contrary, it is possible that quitting is associated with a slight improvement in social well-being.
The review summarizes the evidence from 102 observational studies with more than 169,500 participants. The authors combined the results of 63 of these studies that compared changes in mental health symptoms in people who quit smoking with changes in those who continued to smoke. They also combined the results of 10 studies that measured the number of people who developed a mental disorder during the study.
A wide range of people participated in the studies, including people with mental illnesses and long-term physical illnesses. The participants’ follow-up time varied, the shortest being six weeks, although in some studies the follow-up lasted up to six years. The certainty of the evidence ranged from very low to moderate.
One of the authors of the review, Gemma Taylor, said: “Our work shows that quitting tobacco use does not worsen mental health. On the contrary, the person is likely to feel better when they quit smoking. Many smokers are concerned that quitting will disrupt their social relationships. That it produces a feeling of loneliness. However, they can rest assured that quitting smoking does not seem to have a negative effect on the quality of social life ”.
Some smokers try to quit on their own. Others seek help but do not receive the proper treatment or support they need to quit a substance they have used for a long time. Then, they feel frustrated and the belief increases that by giving up the cigarette, there is no possible well-being, says Dr. Débora Serebrisky. But scientific research shows that if you ask for help and access the correct treatment, you can quit smoking without suffering.