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Why Should You Be Tobacco Free?

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Talk to your VA health care provider about help with quitting smoking, including referral to a VA smoking cessation clinic.

By VA Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention
Friday, October 14, 2011
  • Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and protect the health of your family members. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Using tobacco causes many diseases and affects your overall health. Quitting smoking or other forms of tobacco has benefits in the short- and long-term for you and your loved ones.
  • All forms of tobacco are harmful.  This includes cigars, pipes, snuff, snus, chewing tobacco and electronic or smokeless cigarettes.
  • Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke kill approximately 443,000 people in the United States each year. It is the largest cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.
  • Tobacco use has been shown to be the cause of:
    • Cancers
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Complications of pregnancy
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Secondhand smoke is associated with: 
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
    • Acute lung infections, ear problems
    • More frequent and severe asthma attacks in children
  • Even when people aren't smokers, exposure to secondhand smoke can cause them to develop heart disease and lung cancer.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work are 20%—30% more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer.
  • Breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on your health and increases the risk of heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk.
  • There is no level of secondhand smoke that is risk-free. Even brief exposure can be dangerous.
  • Talk to your VA health care provider about help with quitting smoking, including getting medication to improve your chances of quitting and a referral to a VA smoking cessation clinic.
  • Good things happen as soon as you quit. You will:
    • Have more energy and breathe easier. 
    • Save money that you can spend on other things.
    • Find that your clothes, car, and home smell better.
    • Have fewer wrinkles, and no stains on your skin and nails.
    • Discover that food smells and tastes better.
    • Feel good about quitting.
    • Protect your family members and friends from secondhand smoke.
  • If you are pregnant and quit smoking, your baby will:
    • Be healthier.
    • Get more oxygen.
    • Be less likely to be born too soon.
    • Be more likely to come home from the hospital on the same day that you come home.
    • Have fewer colds and ear infections.
    • Cough and cry less.
    • Have fewer asthma and wheezing problems. 

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