This post was written by Mark O’Shaughnessy, MD, PPG – Cardiology.
Have you set your New Year’s resolutions yet? If you’re still working on a final list, allow me to make the argument for adding “quit smoking” to your goals. Giving up tobacco use is one change that promises to pay huge dividends not only in 2023, but for years to come.
The most obvious reason to stop
The data supporting the health risks of smoking is well known and beyond reproach. The increase in heart and vascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke, is well documented, as are the adverse effects on the heart and blood vessels. The lung injury that, ultimately, results in COPD, emphysema and other terrible lung diseases is likewise well established. The increased risk of a multitude of cancers and their direct relationship to smoking really needs no further discussion.
The bottom line is that the adverse health effects of smoking are so well known and established in the medical literature that your life should be the ultimate motivation to give up the habit in 2023. But if the risk of a serious health event or diagnosis hasn’t done it, don’t worry … I have some other points to consider.
Top ten “other” reasons to stop smoking in 2023
No. 1: More money in your wallet is never a bad thing. I did a quick online search and the average price of a pack of cigarettes nationwide is just over $8 per pack. If you are a pack-a-day smoker, that is around $3,000 per year. Over ten years, that’s $30,000! You could buy a new car with the money saved. If not for your health, think about the trip you want to take, or the new item you could treat yourself to off your wish list.
No. 2: Turning up your tastebuds. One of life’s true pleasures is eating. Nothing can compare to fresh, memorable flavors. But many long-time smokers can’t really taste food due to injury to the olfactory nerve (sense of smell). You can get this important sense back if you stop smoking. Just think of all of the tangy, zesty, sweet, salty, smoky, buttery dishes you can savor.
No. 3: Yellow fingers just aren’t a good look. Long-time smokers frequently have tell-tale finger stains from the smoke and nicotine. You may be trying to hide this habit, but your hands give your secret away. Who knows, perhaps you have a career in hand modeling ahead of you! At the very least, losing the stains should boost your self-confidence.
No. 4: Less time in the dentist’s chair. Cleaning the smoke and nicotine stains off a smoker's teeth is tedious work. Just think of the time savings you could have if you were able to cut down your dental appointments. Enough time to drive to a delicious lunch (that you can really taste) in your new car.
No. 5: Buddies, it’s cold outside. Honestly, when I see smokers shivering in a “butt hut” because the action has been banned in most if not all public places, I always think about how miserable it looks. And what they’re missing inside. Namely, heat. Come in out of the cold, friends.
No. 6: Secondhand smoke kills. This is indeed a true statement. While secondhand smoke is not as detrimental as being a firsthand smoker, it has been shown to have significant health risks to those who are exposed to the noxious fog, including babies. If not for your own health, consider the well-being of your loved ones.
No. 7: Let’s be honest … smoking stinks. Although you may not be able to smell it, I assure you, others can. Cigarette smoke permeates virtually everything it comes in contact with – car interiors, clothes, homes, hair, etc. There aren’t enough air fresheners in the world to mask the distinct, offensive odor of old cigarette smoke. Drop the habit so you can smell like the flower you are!
No. 8: So many butts. Since smoking in public places is no longer permitted, it’s pretty difficult to find an ashtray or any place to put the butt. They don’t even put lighters and ashtrays in vehicles anymore (hint, hint). I know you aren’t a litter bug, so you would never just throw your ashes and butts on the ground. I guess the best option is to stop smoking, so you don’t have to worry about discarding dirty filters.
No. 9: You are loved. The greatest gift you can give to the people who care about you is more time with … well, you! Your family, friends and co-workers don’t want to see you harm yourself, so, if not for yourself, why not resolve to give up smoking for them? You can’t put a price on more memories.
No. 10: Who are we kidding? OK, I fibbed, just a little. I had to put your health on the list of reasons to give up smoking in 2023, because I’m a doctor and it’s my job. When you had the health benefits to the other reasons listed above, it’s clear that you really can’t afford not to quit smoking this year.
Giving up tobacco is really hard, I won’t pull any punches, it just is. But the benefits are worth the effort. What have you got to lose (other than yellow fingers and an unpleasant odor on your clothes)? Let’s make this the one New Year's resolution you finally keep.