Smoking harms you and those around you, but quitting now may undo some damage

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Buying cigarettes may soon be more challenging, and now there is mounting evidence of reasons to quit. The health risks associated with second hand smoke are growing, too, as are the benefits of quitting.

Cigarettes cause sickness, disease, and death. Second hand smoke carries health risks, and now we find some of that damage can be undone if you quit.

It's addictive, it's a habit, and if you smoke you are gambling with your life said Kirk Voelker, M.D. of Sarasota Memorial Hospital. "There's actually one bullet, two empty chambers because there's a one out of three chance that you are going to die of a preventable, smoking-related death." Smoking is responsible for the majority of preventable disease in the U.S., Voelker explained. "Lung conditions such as emphases, asthma, bronchitis, cancers, anything that smoke touches."

Almost every organ in the body is affected. Smoking causes COPD, vasoconstriction and sticky platelets. People who smoke also have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

"If you already have some blockages, this could be attributed to smoking, then you could wind up in the cardiac cath-lab having a heart attack." Said Matt Latsko, RCIS, of Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota.

Second hand smoke carries its own risks, which include upper respiratory tract infections and sinusitis. There are other reasons to keep your distance, include a thirty-percent increased risk of cancer.

Dr. Voelker said, "So, some idiot next to you is smoking, they increasing your chance of heart attack by thirty percent."

There are compelling reasons to quit said Dr. Voelker, "Immediately when you quit smoking you are improving your oxygen levels and you are decreasing your risk of a heart attack."

He added, "In about two to three weeks you're going to notice a difference in your breathing." If you still aren't convinced, he explained that within a year your risk of a heart attack goes down to almost normal, and, in 10 years your risk of cancer goes down to half of what it was when you were smoking.

But, perhaps the most compelling reason to quit is this: One out of three smokers will die of a preventable smoking-related disease, which adds up to about half a million smokers dying every year because they smoke.

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