Impact of Smoking on Health
Smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries — which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack (myocardial infarction) and stroke. Controlling or reversing atherosclerosis is an important part of preventing future heart attack or stroke.
Why It’s Important to Quit
Smoking by itself increases the risk of coronary heart disease. When it acts with the other factors, it greatly increases your risk from those factors, too. Smoking decreases your tolerance for physical activity and increases the tendency for blood to clot. It decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. Your risks increase greatly if you smoke and have a family history of heart disease. Smoking also creates a higher risk for peripheral artery disease and aortic aneurysm. It increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery, too.
Motivation and Support
During the quitting process, people often slip and have a cigarette. It's important not to feel like you failed at quitting; just give it another chance. If you need more support, look for quit-smoking programs through hospitals and many states have hotlines with trained staff to help you with quitting.
Parents should talk to kids about cigarette smoking. Once cigarette smoking is initiated, it can be difficult to stop, even during adolescence.