Be a Champ: Kick the Smoking Habit

Crushing cigarettes

Are you a smoker, or do you love someone who smokes? Here's a staggering fact from the American Cancer Society: If you're a man who smokes, you're cutting 13.2 years off your life. Women give up 14.5 years when they choose to continue the habit.

Twenty percent of American deaths are the result of smoking, and because smoking affects nearly every organ of the body, more than 16 million people have some form of smoking-related health condition or disease. You know that smoking causes lung cancer, but did you know it's linked to an increased risk for dozens of other lung diseases, too?

Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia are disabling lung diseases often found in elderly, long-term smokers, often requiring medical treatment and the aid of a respiratory therapist.


The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to quit cigarettes for the multitude of good-health reasons that result. What are some immediate rewards smokers notice?

  • The heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting
  • Breath and clothes no longer smell
  • Food tastes and smells better
  • No more going outside in bad weather to have a smoke


The body quickly begins to repair itself from the damage smoking has caused:

  • 2 weeks after quitting, circulation improves and lung function increases, according to the 1990 U.S. Surgeon General's Report
  • 5 years after quitting, "the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half; cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker; stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years"
  • 10 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a smoker
  • 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease equals that of a non-smoker's


According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke has caused more than 2.5 million deaths over the last 50 years. Thousands of healthy non-smokers die each year as the result of exposure to someone else's cigarette smoke.

Mothers who smoke are especially harmful to their children. If a woman smokes during her pregnancy, she increases the risk that her baby will develop childhood asthma. She is also more likely to deliver an infant with low birth weight or a cleft palate. Secondhand smoke is also associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Young children raised in a smoking home are more susceptible to colds, ear infections, and bronchitis than those raised in non-smoking homes.


Another way to stay safe from the effects of tobacco is to do your best not to use tobacco products in the first place. Motivated by the belief that many smokers start their habit at a young age -- 9 out of 10 before the age of 18, according to the CDC -- members of the Kansas City (Missouri) City Council recently passed an ordinance banning the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to people under age 21.

The Kansas City metro area straddles the Kansas/Missouri border, and the Council was able to mount a unified effort with its municipal partners across the state line.  Just hours later, the Unified Government on the Kansas side passed a similar resolution, making the entire metro area safer for nonsmokers under 21. It joins New York City, Hawaii and about 100 other municipalities in this growing trend toward preserving our respiratory health.

Since Concorde Career Colleges' national headquarters is based in the greater Kansas City area and operates a campus there, we are proud to see this measure enacted in the hope that some of our young community members may never experience the challenge of quitting the smoking habit themselves.


The American Cancer Society is always hoping to inspire the 42 million Americans who still smoke cigarettes to put down the habit. Is it surprising that tobacco use is "the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States?"

Be a quitter who wins big, or help someone you love take the first step to a longer and healthier life.

Join the ranks of health care professionals who help others breathe more easily. Concorde's program in Respiratory Therapy provides opportunity and career satisfaction for those who are motivated.

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