Bad news for smokers: your habit might cause even more health problems than you previously believed.
According to a new report released by the Surgeon General, smoking increases the risk for diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, impaired fertility, colorectal and liver cancer, and immune system weakness.
The news isn’t great for people who spend a lot of time around smokers either: according to the report, second-hand smoke increases the risk for strokes in non-smokers.
It’s been 50 years since the U.S. Surgeon General released a report officially linking smoking to lung cancer, and the knowledge of just how much damage smoking can do to your health has helped a lot of people kick the habit. We’ve come a long way, but smoking is still a popular habit in our country, and roughly 20.8 million people have died of smoking-related diseases since that original report in 1964.
For many of those people who smoke today, knowing the additional risk for the diseases outlined in the Surgeon General’s report won’t be a strong enough motivation to quit. After all, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who believes that smoking is actually good for them. People don’t smoke for their health; they smoke because it’s an addictive habit they get into, and trying to quit can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to knowing the health risks, many people need a stronger motivation to quit smoking. Here are just a few that have worked for some former smokers:
Parents sometimes find motivation by telling themselves they don’t want their children to pick up the habit, and that they don’t want to die before their time of a smoking-related disease and miss seeing their children (or grandchildren!) grow up.
Recent studies have proved that exercise temporarily reduces cigarette cravings, and getting into a regular exercise routine has helped many people quit smoking. It also motivates people to stay smoke-free so that they can get in better shape and enjoy an active lifestyle.
One company now produces smoking cessation software that shows smokers what they would look when they’re older if they continue to smoke regularly. Since smoking a pack a day causes a person to take on the wrinkles of someone 1.4 times their age, some people are successfully able to scare themselves into quitting after seeing how their habit will impact their appearance.
A researcher from the University of Georgia recently found that smokers who use social media as a motivational tool during their quitting attempt are more likely to stay smoke-free than those who don’t use social media. Many people update their progress on Facebook, Twitter, or health-specific social media sites to give themselves a support network and greater accountability.
When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter whether people give up smoking because of health concerns or because of another motivational factor. What matters is that people find a tool that empowers them to kick the habit and live a healthier lifestyle.
Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a freelance writer and co-owner of Weiss-Roessler Writing with her husband Josh. She writes about a wide range of topics, including health, fitness, and running a small business. She currently lives in Austin, TX with Josh, her 20-month-old son, and two rescue dogs.