man and boy leaning on rail

Choosing to be tobacco free could be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Quitting smoking will help you live a longer, healthier life as well as help protect the health of your family and friends. Giving up smoking can be difficult, but a tobacco-free lifestyle offers many benefits – benefits that will last a lifetime.

Smoking contributes to a number of serious and often disabling diseases including lung cancer and other types of cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease. Every year, nearly 10,000 Missourians die from tobacco-related diseases. And secondhand smoke causes an average of 1,150 deaths in Missouri annually.

Even if you’re a long-time smoker, quitting now could help prevent serious illness and add years to your life. And if you’ve tried to quit before and weren’t successful, don’t be discouraged. Try again. Many people have tried to quit more than once before they succeed.

Because secondhand smoke can cause cancer, heart disease and other illnesses in people who don’t smoke, your spouse, your children, other family members or friends who breathe your smoke are at risk. In addition, children who are exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to experience sudden infant death syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma and other respiratory problems.

While the most important benefit of quitting smoking is preventing disease and early death, there are many other advantages as well.

  • You’ll have fresher breath, whiter teeth and better smelling hair and clothes.
  • Your sense of smell with return to normal, and food will taste better.
  • The discoloration of your fingers and fingernails will disappear.
  • You’ll be able to do normal activities such as climb stairs, do house and yard work and keep up with your kids and grandkids without losing your breath.
  • You’ll feel free to go to restaurants, theatres, sports arenas and other public facilities where smoking isn’t permitted.
  • You won’t have to worry about exposing your family members and friends to your secondhand smoke.
  • You will no longer spend time and energy worrying about when you’ll be able to get your next nicotine “fix.”

Quitting smoking can also improve your family finances. Not only will you save thousands of dollars that you would have spent on cigarettes, you will also save on medical expenses as well. Missouri spends almost two billion dollars every year to treat smoking-related illnesses.

When you quit smoking, you’ll be setting a positive example for your children and grandchildren. And if they don’t smoke, they won’t have to worry about increasing their risk for lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses as they grow older.

When you quit smoking...

...the health benefits begin almost immediately.

  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and lung function increases.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. The cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
  • 1 year after quitting: Your increased risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
  • 5 to 15 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.
  • 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancrease decrease.
  • 15 years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same of that of a non-smoker.