10 Reasons to Quit Smoking,
That Aren't Lung Cancer
By Susan Woodward
You know the facts as you reach
for your cigarettes. Perhaps you contemplate them for a moment as you light
up. Heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema...
If the threat of death won't convince
you, maybe something else can prompt you to quit smoking: good old-fashioned
vanity. Appearances. The things we humans judge each other by most.
Still, you inhale deeply. All
poisons and 43
carcinogens. And you knowingly beckon the Grim Reaper closer.
If you're a smoker, here are
10 good reasons to give up the habit. They might not kill you, but they
sure don't make you look pretty.
No. 1: Facial Wrinkles
Forget the beautiful babes who
peer from the advertising pages of fashion magazines, tailor-made cigarettes
between their fingers. The first thing smoking will not do is give you
the eyes and lips of a model.
Crows feet and wrinkled cheeks.
Vertical lines around your mouth. That's the true picture.
Smoking causes vasoconstriction
of facial capillaries, which reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to
skin cells. Say hello to premature wrinkling that is largely irreversible
(even if you can afford the cash and handle the pain of cosmetic surgery).
This one may worry women more
than men, but read on.
No. 2: Impotence
"Oh, God no! Really? Now that's
bad!" says Donovan Hipke, a 26 year old Web developer in Seattle. He's
reacting to the news that if he doesn't defeat his three year pack a day
habit, something very near and dear to him may stop working in the future.
Smoking reduces peripheral vascular
flow. In other words, the blood flow necessary to attain an erection may
become blocked. As many as one in two American men older than 40 have experienced
impotence to some degree. The condition, which was once deemed psychological,
is now believed to have primarily physical causes, smoking among them.
"If smoking ruins your sex
life, it seems like a terrible trade-off," says Ryan Harper, a 22 year
old non-smoker who lives in northern California. "How cool can it be to
not perform in bed?"
No. 3: Stained Teeth, Bad Breath
Lips are made for kissing, right?
But what if the mouth behind them is filled with stained teeth and bad
"As smoking becomes more and
more uncommon, people are increasingly sensitive to these things and react
negatively to them," says American Lung Association spokesman Dr. Edwin
Particles from cigarette smoke
stain teeth brown and yellow, and cause odor producing bacteria that become
trapped in your mouth. Gum disease and tooth loss are also common in smokers.
If you need some more oral
reasons to quit, think about vocal chord growths and cancer of the mouth,
throat and esophagus.
No. 4: You Stink
Yes, you really, really do. Maybe
you're so used to smoking you can't tell. Maybe your nasal passages are
so damaged your nose doesn't work properly anyway. But ask a non-smoking
friend for an honest answer about the way you, your car and your home smell.
The Ugly Answer:
They all stink. Almost as much
as the ashtray you use to stub out your butts.
Cigarette smoke has an unpleasant
odor that lingers on everything from skin and hair to clothing and curtains.
The scent does not turn on friends and lovers.
No. 5: Brittle Bones
Risk factors for the crippling
condition of osteoporosis are well known these days: female, white or Asian,
inactive, past menopause, small frame, calcium deficiency and genetic predisposition
all contribute to low bone mineral density. So does smoking.
Numerous studies link smoking
and osteoporosis in women and men. It may be because smoking affects the
synthesis of estrogen and other hormones necessary for healthy bones.
A 1997 study that looked at 4,000
hip fractures in elderly women concluded that one out of every eight fractures
was due to smoking related bone loss. Once lost, bone density cannot be
No. 6: Depression
Let's get philosophical for a moment:
Why do you smoke?
Dr. Fisher of the American
Lung Association believes there's a good chance you're stressed or depressed.
"People who are unemployed or going through a divorce often smoke," he
says, adding that, "Even if you're not distressed, smoking makes you look
like you are".
The connection between smoking
and depression has been well established. Smoking may make you appear more
troubled than cool. And it can't take the place of a good therapist.
No. 7: Crummy Role Model
Children emulate adults. Every
time you light up, you tell kids around you that smoking is OK.
Ryan Harper attributes his
abstinence to his parents. "My parents are excellent role models for me,"
he says. "They don't drink or smoke." And neither does he.
Every day, an estimated 3,000 children
in the United States become addicted to cigarette smoking. If they keep
smoking, 1,000 of them eventually will die from conditions connected to
Anti tobacco organizations
claim cigarette companies deliberately target children in their advertising
campaigns. If you smoke, you're a walking billboard for these companies.
And you are paying them.
No. 8: Fire!
Fires caused by lighted tobacco
products are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. During
the 1980s, smoking materials started more than 200,000 fires every year
and killed more than 1,000 people, while injuring 3,000 more and causing
more than $300 million in property damage.
If death by fire doesn't impress
you, surely you can recall at least one time your cigarette burned a hole
in your precious silk suit or cashmere sweater. It may be the dawn of a
new millennium, but crispy clothing is not a suave fashion statement yet.
No. 9: Poor Circulation
Drooling, paralysis, loss of speech
... There's nothing pretty about becoming the victim of a stroke.
Hemoglobin cells are designed to
carry oxygen throughout the body. In smokers, oxygen molecules are displaced
by the components of cigarette smoke, blocking the transfer of life giving
If you've convinced yourself
that stroke is an extreme or unlikely consequence of your habit, there's
always premature coronary heart disease to slow you down. If you're lucky,
perhaps you'll only experience some of the inconveniences of poor circulation,
like painful pins and needles or cold hands and feet.
No. 10: You Look Stupid
Given the prevalence of smoking
education in our culture, it could be said that smokers must have a lack
of oxygen to the brain. In fact, as you read above, they do.
But no matter how a smoker justifies
his or her addiction, this is the simple, indisputable truth: Just like
the slogan says, "Smoking kills". Makes the habit look kind of silly overall,
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