I’ve smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years—what’s the use of quitting now? Will I even be able to quit after all this time?

    It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting smoking at any time improves your health. When you quit, you are likely to add years to your life, breathe more easily, have more energy, and save money. You will also:

    • Lower your risk of cancer , heart attack , stroke , and lung disease
    • Have better blood circulation
    • Improve your sense of taste and smell
    • Stop smelling like smoke
    • Set a healthy example for your children and grandchildren

    Smoking shortens your life. It causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year . Smoking makes millions of Americans sick by causing:

    • Lung disease. Smoking damages your lungs and airways, sometimes causing chronic bronchitis . It can also cause emphysema , which destroys your lungs, making it very hard for you to breathe.
    • Heart disease. Smoking increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
    • Cancer. Smoking can lead to cancer of the lungs, mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, and cervix.
    • Respiratory problems. If you smoke, you are more likely than a nonsmoker to get the flu , pneumonia, or other infections that can interfere with your breathing.
    • Osteoporosis. If you smoke, your chance of developing osteoporosis (weak bones) is greater.
    • Eye diseases. Smoking increases the risk of eye diseases that can lead to vision loss and blindness, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
    • Diabetes. Smokers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers, and smoking makes it harder to control diabetes once you have it. Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to blindness, heart disease, nerve disease, kidney failure, and amputations.

    Smoking can also make muscles tire easily, make wounds harder to heal, increase the risk of erectile dysfunction in men, and make skin become dull and wrinkled.

    Nicotine is a drug

    Nicotine is the drug in tobacco that makes cigarettes so addictive. Although some people who give up smoking have no withdrawal symptoms, many people continue to have strong cravings for cigarettes. They also may feel grumpy, hungry, or tired . Some people have headaches, feel depressed , or have problems sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms fade over time.

    Help with quitting

    Many people say the first step to quitting smoking successfully is to make a firm decision to quit and pick a definite date to stop. Make a plan to deal with the situations that trigger your urge to smoke and to cope with cravings. You may need to try many approaches to find what works best for you. For example, you might:

    • Talk with your doctor .
    • Read self-help information.
    • Go to individual or group counseling.
    • Download the mobile apps or sign up for the text messaging service at SmokeFree60+ .
    • Ask a friend for help.
    • Think of what you can do with the money you spend on cigarettes and set up a rewards system .
    • Take a walk or try a new physical activity you enjoy.
    • Take medicine to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

    Some people worry about gaining weight if they quit. If that concerns you, make a plan to exercise and be physically active when you quitit may distract you from your cravings and is important for healthy aging.

    Breaking the addiction

    When you quit smoking, you may need support to cope with your body’s desire for nicotine. Nicotine replacement products help some smokers quit. You can buy gum, patches, or lozenges over the counter.

    There are also prescription medications that may help you quit. A nicotine nasal spray or inhaler can reduce withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for you to quit smoking.

    Other drugs may also help with withdrawal symptoms. Talk with your doctor about which medicines might be best for you.

    Cigars, pipes, hookahs, chewing tobacco, and snuff are not safe

    Some people think smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safe alternatives to cigarettes. They are not. Smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the mouth and pancreas. It also causes precancerous lesions (known as oral leukoplakia ), gum problems , and nicotine addiction. Pipe and cigar smokers may develop cancer of the mouth, lip, larynx, esophagus, and bladder. Those who inhale when smoking are also at increased risk of getting lung cancer as well as heart disease, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , and emphysema. Using a hookah to smoke tobacco poses many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking .

    Secondhand smoke is dangerous

    Secondhand smoke created by cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can cause serious health problems for family, friends, and even pets of smokers. Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for people who already have lung or heart disease. In adults, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer. In babies, it can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) , which is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year of age. Children are also more likely to have lung problems, ear infections, and severe asthma if they are around secondhand smoke.

    Good news about quitting

    The good news is that after you quit smoking, even in your 60s, 70s, or beyond:

    • Your heart rate and blood pressure drop to more normal levels.
    • Your nerve endings begin to regenerate, so you can smell and taste better.
    • Your lungs, heart , and circulatory system will begin to function better.
    • You will cough and feel out of breath less often.
    • Your chance of having a heart attack or stroke will drop.
    • Your breathing will improve.
    • Your chance of getting cancer will be lower.

    No matter how old you are, all these health benefits are important reasons to make a plan to stop smoking.

    You can quit smoking: Stick with it!

    Many people need a few tries before they quit smoking for good. If you slip and have a cigarette, you are not a failure. You can try again and be successful. Try these tips to get back to your goal .

    It’s never too late to get benefits from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time and reduce your risk of death.

    Read about this topic in Spanish . Lea sobre este tema en español .

    For more information about quitting smoking

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 800-232-4636 888-232-6348 (TTY) cdci[email protected] www.cdc.gov

    This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

    Content reviewed: January 17, 2019

    Is 45 too late to quit smoking?
    A recent study published in late 2021 in JAMA Oncology found that those who quit before age 45 cut their excess risk of dying of cancer by 89%. Even quitters older than 45 can cut their risk significantly. more
    Is it too late to change career at 45?
    With many active years ahead of you, it's never too late to find a rewarding new career. Many of the skills you have acquired in previous positions will be transferable but if there are gaps in your knowledge, you can always go back to school to obtain a qualification in a field that interests you. more
    How late is too late exercise?
    Past experts have told us that you shouldn't work out after 8 p.m. The National Sleep Foundation advises that you avoid "strenuous workouts in the late evening or right before bed," though it notes that if nighttime workouts don't affect your sleep, there's no need to change your routine. more
    Is it too late to quit smoking after 40 years?
    It's never too late to get benefits from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time and reduce your risk of death. more
    Is it too late to study medicine at 45?
    45 is not too old to study at University, it's definitely not too old to study Medicine. But would you want to be a junior doctor in your 50s? That's the question to ask yourself and consider. more
    What age is too late to quit smoking?
    It's never too late to get benefits from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time and reduce your risk of death. more
    Is it harder to quit smoking the longer you smoke?
    The longer you've been a smoker the more it will be part of your everyday routine and lifestyle. This may make it harder to kick the habit, as not only do you have to stop smoking, but you also have to change the way your routine works day-to-day. more
    How late is too late to quit smoking?
    It's never too late to get benefits from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time and reduce your risk of death. more
    Is it harder to quit smoking if your friends smoke?
    Population studies using longitudinal data suggest that smokers with more smoking friends are less likely to quit (Biener et al., 2010; Herd, Borland, & Hyland, 2009; Levy, Biener, & Rigotti, 2009; Osler & Prescott, 1998). more
    Is 45 too late to start over?
    If you're worried you're too old to start a new career, don't be. It's never too late to pursue professional fulfillment and a healthy work/life balance. more
    Is it too late to become a nurse at 45?
    The answer is that going back to school to earn your nursing degree is an incredibly rewarding experience; you're never too old to become a nurse! more

    Source: www.nia.nih.gov

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