Everyone knows that smoking is one of the most dangerous and destructive habits to your personal health. Cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals from the fertilizers, pesticides, and the curing process used in tobacco growth and processing. Many of these chemicals, close to seventy, in fact, are known carcinogens. What does that mean? It means they’ve been directly linked to specific cancers.
Aside from that, smoking is a public health hazard as well. Smoking can pollute the air, and the direct damage from the tobacco industry to the environment is nearly immeasurable. All of this aside, there are some benefits of ditching the smoking habit that you may not even realize. Here are five surprising benefits of quitting smoking.
1. Skin Health
You might be surprised to learn that smoking actually has a negative impact on your skin health as well. Smoking damages collagen and elastin. These two are the fibrous components of skin that keep it firm but supple, and the chemicals in cigarettes seriously damages them. It also restricts the blood flow to certain areas, such as your lips, by causing vasoconstriction. This means that your skin doesn’t get enough nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to stay healthy.
This is why so many smokers are turning away from tobacco altogether. Some have quit cold turkey, but this is a difficult and unpleasant process. Others have used CBD products, or tobaccoless chew from Black Buffalo to curb nicotine cravings and make the process easier.
2. More Energy
You might notice that after you quit smoking, you suddenly have more energy than you’ve had in years. A simple walk across the house or up a flight of stairs doesn’t leave you winded. This is because your muscles and your heart are finally starting to get the oxygen and nutrients they need. When you smoke, it constricts blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. This can cause your heart to work harder for even the most simple physical tasks, like walking up the stairs. When you quit smoking, your pressure drops back to normal levels, and the gas exchange in the lungs is more efficient. With healthier blood flow, that precious oxygen is reaching every muscle.
Smoking also increases your anxiety levels, which can cause mental exhaustion. You’re probably thinking, “But I started smoking because I was stressed, and it helped.”
The truth is, smoking didn’t help your anxiety at all—in fact, it probably made it worse. When you start smoking, you quickly become addicted to nicotine. This can cause further anxiety, especially when you start to experience mild withdrawal after a few hours without a cigarette.
3. Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the US. Two of the most significant contributing factors to the heart disease epidemic are smoking and poor diet/sedentary lifestyle. Smoking constricts blood vessels, as you know; but do you know what vasoconstriction actually does to the heart?
When your vessels are constricted, it increases the pressure of the blood flowing through them. With higher pressure, the vessels can become damaged, inflated, or even blocked. The risk of coronary artery disease and heart disease can double just from smoking!
Cigarettes also increase carbon monoxide levels in your bloodstream. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin on red blood cells, which makes it more difficult for oxygen molecules to attach to the red blood cells. With reduced oxygen, the heart (being a muscle itself), has to work that much harder to do the same tasks.
4. Less Stigma
You’d be amazed at the amount of stigma that surrounds smoking. It’s not the habit it once was. In fact, the public is more aware than ever how smoking affects individual and public health, which can cause smokers to become ostracized into their own social groups. You might find yourself missing out on social or dating opportunities simply because you’re a smoker.
When it comes to dating and romantic relationships, some people don’t want to date someone who smokes because there’s a potential for serious health complications and even death. Think about it—would you date someone who was actively swallowing a small amount of arsenic every day? Probably not, but you’re inhaling arsenic and thousands of other toxins every time you smoke.
Quitting smoking allows you to rejoin a healthier society, and the more people that quit, the better off the planet and public health will be. Cigarette filters (butts) are still the world’s most littered item—accounting for millions of metric tons of waste per year and ending up in waterways, streets, sidewalks, and everywhere else they’re discarded without care.
5. Improved Financial Health
You might be surprised at how much your smoking habit is costing you each year. The average cost of smoking for one year is about $2-3,000. That’s a vacation, a large payment to your 401(k), a payment on your car, or a paid-off debt. With hundreds of extra dollars per month going to smoking, you’re potentially squandering your financial health on a habit that will eventually kill you.
But wait—the cost doesn’t end there. Just wait until your medical bills from cancer, lung or heart disease, or other ailments come in the mail. Oh, and your home’s value can drop by up to 29% if you smoke inside. Your vehicle loses value, too. You’re looking at thousands of dollars in potential costs over the course of your habit.