It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health. Aside from the more obvious, and widely cautioned health risks (like increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease), there are several reasons why you should avoid smoking. Here are some of the consequences of smoking that may encourage you to kick the habit for good.

Of course inhaling a rolled concoction of addictive nicotine, toxic chemicals, and carbon monoxide is bad for your lungs. It doesn’t take long before you start noticing shortness of breath from activities that used to be easy for you, like walking up a flight of stairs. Hitting the gym is difficult when you can’t catch your breath, so before long your physique will begin to suffer. Not to mention that you’ll have trouble with any activity that requires physical exertion, meaning other “extra-curricular” activities will become increasingly more difficult as you struggle to catch your breath. Many men become out of breath during sex, leading to diminished performance and even decreased libido.

Since you’ll find exercise more difficult, you’ll start to lose your muscle, and within as early as 5 weeks, your strength will start to decrease as well. Without regular exercise, you can expect to start gaining body fat. If you aren’t careful with your diet, you’ll put on extra weight, too. Continued smoking will affect your sense of smell and taste, so trying to maintain a healthy diet could prove difficult as you may find many foods less enjoyable. And with the suppression in appetite commonly caused by nicotine, you may find yourself snacking on unhealthy foods instead of actually sitting down to a well-balanced meal.

You might notice your fingers and fingernails starting to have a yellowish tint to them from holding your cigarette or cigar. Don’t worry, chances are, your teeth will start to sport that yellow stain as well, so at least you’ll have your colors coordinated! You won’t have those pearly whites to flash at the next gorgeous girl who walks past, but you’ll still have your charm and intelligence. The only problem is, with breath that smells like an ashtray, you may want to keep some breath mints on hand. In the event that you develop gingivitis, or an infection in your gums from your smoking habit, however, mints just might be enough to fend off the bad breath.

With the lack of exercise, and proper nutrition, your cardiovascular system will suffer, and since smoking damages the entire system as well, you may develop peripheral artery disease (restricted blood flow from tightened vessels), atherosclerosis (a build-up of bad cholesterol and stretched arteries), or have trouble with blood clots forming and weakened vessels in the brain, leading to the increased risk of a stroke. A stroke interrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain, causing brain cells to rapidly die off. It’s possible that some the charm you’ve held on to may fizzle away, along with your dazzling smile, your lean muscle mass, and your healthy sex drive, leaving you to wonder if smoking was really worth it.

The consequences of smoking range from yellowing of the skin and teeth to trapping toxins in your lungs, and tons of health risks in between. Quitting can greatly reduce these risks, and even reverse some of the damage already caused. Even your sex life can be negatively impacted by continued tobacco use, and none of us wants that to happen prematurely!

If you need help quitting, talk with your physician about options that may assist you. Many states even have programs to aid in kicking the habit, offering over the counter medications, nicotine gum, and even support groups to those who need it. Your doctor, or local health department can give you information on programs in your area.

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Betsy Smith

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