Did you make a New Year's resolution to quit smoking in 2016? That’s a great idea, and for a whole bunch of reasons. Here are 11 that you – and those around you – should find especially appealing.
1. You’re now a lot less likely to develop many different kinds of cancer
Lung cancer is one of them, of course. A few others: mouth, throat, stomach, kidney, cervical and bladder.
In fact, your risk of developing -- or dying from -- a number of forms of cancer drops dramatically within two to 10 years of quitting.
Specifically, a US Surgeon General’s report from 2010 says that after five smoke-free years, a person’s risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. The lung cancer death rate also is cut in half by the 10th anniversary of the day you gave up on cigarettes.
2. Your risk of contracting a number of other diseases and conditions also is lower
Smoking doesn’t just cause cancer. The habit is tied to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary heart disease, and stroke as well.
That’s not all, unfortunately. People who smoke also are more likely to come down with pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other airway infections. (according to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.)
And they have a higher risk of developing cataracts or suffering from erectile dysfunction.
3. You’ll soon pay less for health insurance
Under the Affordable Care Act, companies can base their health insurance rates on four factors. Three of those factors are the number of people covered by the policy, their ages, and where they live. The fourth factor: whether or not they use tobacco products.
In regard to that last factor, insurers can charge people who smoke up to 50 percent more than those who don’t. Which is to say insurance companies can charge that much if the states they operate in allow it. And not all do. A handful of states don’t let insurers apply this “tobacco-use surcharge” to their premiums. Other states place a cap on the surcharge that’s below 50 percent.
Does this mean you can expect your health insurance rates to fall by 50 percent or so now that you’ve stopping smoking? Not exactly. Most companies make you wait a few months – usually six or more – before they give you the non-smoker rate.
Still, it won’t hurt you to look around and see what different insurers can offer you even if you haven’t reached that threshold.
4. Ammonia, lead, and tar will no longer be a regular part of your diet
Did you know as many as 600 ingredients are combined to make your average cigarette? You do now.
Although some of those ingredients seem harmless enough – anise extract, basil oil, citric acid – most of them are anything but. A few examples:
Also, the smoke created by a burning cigarette contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Even worse, the US Department of Health and Human Services says dozens of those chemicals cause cancer.
5. If you’ve been looking to save a bit of money, now’s your chance
It shouldn’t surprise anyone who smokes to hear it’s an expensive habit.
Still, it can be shocking to come face to face with just how much cash it takes to keep it up. Consider these figures from the American Academy of Family Physicians:
- If you smoke a pack a day, you spend about $2,200 a year on cigarettes
- Smoke two packs a day? That amount jumps to $4,500
- Three packs a day costs you more than $6,700
That’s a lot of money that could be used for things quite a bit more exciting and beneficial than sticks of tobacco.
6. Life insurance will be a lot more affordable for you in the coming months
Most life insurance companies charge people who smoke more for a policy than people who don’t smoke. How much higher will a smoker’s life insurance rates be than a non-smoker’s? It depends, although a quick survey of the industry suggests smokers pay four or five times what non-smokers pay.
Don’t expect that change as soon as you toss your last cigarette into the trash. Many insurers make you wait six months or even a year before they’ll re-evaluate your situation – which usually means taking another medical exam or blood test – and lower your premiums.
Insurance companies differ wildly when it comes to how they treat current and former tobacco users, though, so shop around if you’re in the market for life insurance. It will ensure you’ll get the best rate possible.
7. The people – and even pets – around you can now breathe a sigh of relief
It’s common knowledge that secondhand smoke can harm those who live with or otherwise spend time around people who use tobacco products. Did you know, though, it can harm your pets too?
A number of studies suggest that secondhand smoke may cause oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, nasal cancer in dogs, and lung cancer in birds.
In other words, Fido or Felix or whatever your pet’s name may be probably is just as happy as any human that you’ve broken the habit.
8. Do you want to get pregnant? You’re in a much better position to make that happen now that you’re not smoking
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women who smoke usually have a harder time getting pregnant. They’re also more likely than non-smokers to suffer ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages. And they’re more likely to give birth before their due dates or have babies with low birth weights.
Now for the good news related to all of this: giving up your one-, two-, or three-day habit lessens each of those worries and then some.
9. Expect to see a homeowners insurance discount come your way in the near future too
Although it sucks for smokers that they usually pay more than non-smokers do for health and life insurance, at least those discrepancies make sense.
People who smoke also tend to pay more for homeowners insurance, though, which likely sounds odd before you hear why that’s the case.
Basically, smoking indoors causes a lot of fires each year. Not only that, but the US Fire Administration says smoking indoors is the leading cause of home fire deaths in this country. In that light, home insurance companies charging higher rates to people who smoke is a lot more understandable.
Now that you’ve put the habit behind you, though, you should see your homeowners policy premiums drop soon. How soon, and by how much, depends on the provider. So, if you think you’re overdue for a discount, or if you think your discount is too small, check out the competition and see if you can do better somewhere else.
10. Are you a snorer? Those days may soon be behind you (and your significant other too)
One of the stranger side effects of smoking is it often leads to snoring. Even stranger: it makes snorers out of a lot of people who live with smokers too.
Don’t take my word for it; a 2004 study found that 24 percent of people who smoke become habitual snorers (which means they snore loudly at least three nights a week). It also found that nearly 20 percent of people exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes are similarly regular snorers. That’s a full 7 percent higher than the average non-smoker.
11. That six-pack you’ve always dreamed of is within reach once again
Almost everyone knows that smoking can wreck your overall health, as well as your skin and teeth. Not everyone knows that smoking also can wreck your ability to develop a model-worthy set of abs.
The National Cancer Institute’s smokefree.gov site explains: “When you smoke, less blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, making it harder to build muscle.”
The lack of oxygen causes other problems too, with one of them being that muscles tire more easily. As a result, the site shares that “smokers have more muscle aches and pains than non-smokers.”
The flipside of this, of course, is you now have one less excuse to use when telling yourself and others why you aren’t rocking a six-pack.