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Smoking: Is It Too Late To Quit?

If you are a long-term smoker, who might wonder if there are any benefits to quitting.

Many long term smokers who are already at risk of lung cancer believe that there aren’t any benefits to giving up cigarettes after years of use. However, your body is susceptible to enormous health benefits with the cessation of smoking, even if you have been a long term or lifetime smoker.

Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world and can be a battle for many. Most people understand that smoking puts them at risk for several reasons, including several forms of cancer and heart related disease. However quitting smoking can seem like one of the most difficult tasks you can undertake. There is good new, however.

Each year about 1.3 million smokers do quit. Since 1965, more than 40 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit. And research shows that with good smoking cessation programs, 20 to 40 percent of participants are able to quit smoking and stay off cigarettes for at least one year.

Each of those individuals receive immediate and lasting physical benefits, that continue to increase the longer they abstain from smoking:

  • Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

  • 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

  • 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

  • 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

  • 1 year, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker's.

  • 5 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.

  • 10 years, your risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker and your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases.

  • 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.

Quitting smoking at any time can also improve the health of your teeth and gums, your energy level, your mood, immune system and more. Stopping exposure of second hand smoke to family members, children, and pets can also reduce the health risks they face from exposure.

Thankfully, in today’s day and age with the increased awareness of the dangers of cigarette smoking we also have many resources available to assist in the process of quitting. You don’t have to take on this process alone, and statistically people are much more likely to successfully quit when aided by a smoking cessation program.

There are a lot of different ways to give up smoking, but research shows you'll have the best chance of quitting if you take the following steps:

  • Take time to prepare yourself mentally.

  • Get support and encouragement from people around you or professionals.

  • Learn new skills and behaviors to help you cope without cigarettes.

  • Get medication and use it correctly.

  • And finally, prepare yourself for difficult situations and setbacks.

There are many resources available when you are finally ready to quit. From speaking with your doctor, to online or in-person counseling sessions, there are numerous tools available to keep you on track. There are also nicotine replacement tools (gum, patch, and lozenge form) and prescriptions such as Chantix.

Gwinnett Medical also offers an intensive program to aid you in your efforts to quit, including:


Hospitalized patients are counseled and provided with information to assist them in becoming nonsmokers. Follow-up support after discharge is also provided.


The Freshstart Program is a smoking cessation program created by the American Cancer Society. The program consists of four classes taught by trained facilitators. The goal of the program is to help participants stop smoking by giving them the information and strategies needed to create their personal plan for quitting while in a supportive group environment. Cost is free.

To register for Freshstart Smoking Cessation classes, call the Healthline at 678-312-5000 or online class registration tool.

No matter what options you select to help you on your journey, finding a program that matches your needs and lifestyle will help increase your chances of success. It is never too late to make this positive change, and improve your future health for years to come!

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