Five Good Reasons That Finally Motivated Me to Quit Smoking
If you are like most smokers, you want to quit—but you are not motivated by pictures of cancerous lungs or scary warnings on cigarette packs. You probably don't respond to statistics about heart disease, shortened lifespan, or what your second-hand smoke is doing to those you live with, either.
That's the way it was for me. I smoked in the car when driving my kids around and thought it was okay because I kept the window open. Talk about denial. I found all the health horror stories tiresome and just closed my eyes, hoping none of those things would happen to me.
It wasn't the idea of my health that finally motivated me to quit. It was sheer vanity and self-interest. So, in that spirit I offer you five good reasons to quit smoking that have nothing to do with lung cancer and heart disease, and everything to do with self-interest.
1. Smoking Decreases the Value of Your Car
I know you said you wouldn't smoke in the car, but I bet you do. And even though you can't smell it, I bet your car dashboard and upholstery are permeated with the stink of old cigarettes. There are probably a few burns and stains as well.
Those little pine tree shaped deodorizers do next to nothing, and even if you have your car totally detailed before trying to sell it, any used car dealer worth his salt is going to know that this car belonged to a smoker and guess what—that one fact decreases the car's value by hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on make and model, of course. You might want to consider quitting if you have a new car or are considering buying one—at least keep in mind that each time you light up in your car, you are decreasing its value.
2. Smoking Affects Your Job Prospects
These days there are employers who won't even consider hiring a smoker because it affects their bottom line. Smokers take more and longer breaks than non-smokers, and are less productive. Smokers also cost more to insure, get sick more often than non-smokers, and even though a workplace is smoke free, there is still the issue of second hand smoke in designated smoking sections. So, employers figure if it comes down to hiring a smoker or a non-smoker for a particular job, it makes sense to go with the non smoker.
In fact, hospitals and health-related businesses are increasingly switching from a "smoke-free environment" philosophy to a "smoker-free" one, warning applicants that they will be subject to urine testing for nicotine and that evidence of smoking will be grounds for dismissal.
By the way, if you are buying your own health insurance, your premiums will be higher as a smoker, if you can find a company that will insure you at all. In today's tough job market, you might want to consider revamping your smoking habits along with your resume if you are looking for a job or trying to keep the one you have.
3. Smoking Is Not Sexy
For both sexes, smoking causes wrinkles and bad breath. For men, there is increasing evidence that smoking can cause impotence, or what the Viagra ads delicately refer to as erectile disfunction. According to Web MD:
"Guys concerned about their performance in the bedroom should stop lighting up, suggests a study that linked smoking to a man's ability to get an erection. The study of nearly 5,000 Chinese men showed that men who smoked more than a pack a day were 60% more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction, compared with men who never smoked cigarettes."
There are sexual consequences for women as well. Women who smoke have higher rates of infertility than those who don't, and there are studies which show that pregnant women who smoke are more likely to give birth to babies with colic.
Then, there is the dating pool. Especially if you are using an online dating site to find Mr. or Ms. Right, you will find that as a smoker your potential dating pool is greatly diminished. The majority of adults are non-smokers and many will not even consider dating a smoker when filling out a profile for an online dating site. Of course, it is also true that you will have less competition if you want to date only smokers, but still—it does narrow your options.
Your profile picture won't be as good either with all those wrinkles and the premature aging that smoking brings. Oh, and did I mention the tooth loss and gum disease? Yes, smoking is a major cause of tooth loss and periodontal disease. Deep pockets in the gums not only loosen teeth, but fill with bacteria and, if left untreated, can cause all sorts of problems including heart disease. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of people over age 65 who have never smoked are toothless, while almost half of daily smokers over age 65 have lost all their teeth. So, if you keep smoking you can look forward to expensive periodontal surgery and either a set of dentures or a mouthful of expensive implants. Either way, it's not a pretty picture.
4. Smoking Affects Housing Values
Apartment hunting? Check out how many of the ads online and in local papers don't want to rent to smokers, and there is a good reason why landlords want to avoid you if you smoke. Smokers are harder on the premises than non-smokers. When you move out, the landlord will definitely have to repaint and totally refurbish the place. Nothing is a bigger turn off to potential tenants than the smell of dead smoke or a yellow film of nicotine on the light fixtures. You'll find that out if you try to break your lease, need to sublet, or find a new tenant for your apartment. And let's not even talk about renting a furnished room or sharing a house or apartment with non-smoking room mates. Let's just say that as a smoker, your choices of where to live are greatly limited by your smoking habit.
You are not off the hook as a homeowner either. If you want to sell your house you are going to have to remove all vestiges of tobacco—the associated smell and nicotine film—by industrial strength cleaning, repainting, and refinishing before staging it for sale. Otherwise you can expect a significantly lower selling price or no sale at all. Oh, and did I mention that if you are buying a house your cost for homeowner's insurance (required if you have a mortgage) will be much higher if you smoke than if you don't. I bet you've never thought about how smoking affects how and where you get to live, but it really plays an important role.
5. Miscellaneous Little Reasons to Quit
Sometimes it is the little things that really get to you—Imagine not having to fight the cravings or chomp on nicotine gum every time you get on an airplane. Think about not having to leave your desk and go outside and freeze your duff off every hour to calm the nicotine beast. Imagine opening your closet and not finding that your sweaters smell of dead smoke. Think about tasting food: I mean really tasting it. How about being able to run up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath?
You know that panicked feeling you get when it is late at night and you only have three cigarettes left, or what about the experience of rooting through old ashtrays at 4 a.m. to try and find a butt long enough to smoke? Imagine never having to do that again.
And, this one is perhaps the best of all. When I finally quit over a decade ago, after 30 years of smoking, one thing that really worked for me was putting the money I would have spent on cigarettes into a big glass jar on a daily basis. I did this every day for three months and there were days when just seeing that growing pile of cash kept me on the straight and narrow. Think of the money you'll save.
So there you have it—no scary pictures and predictions of a horrible future. Here are some good reasons to consider quitting that effect your life here, now, and in practical ways. I hope they help if you are among the many smokers who really would like to quit. It's hard, but it is definitely worth it.
Helpful Links for Quitters
Smokefree.gov can help you or someone you care about quit smoking with up to date information and professional assistance.
- Mobile apps
Download the " Quitguide" app from iTunes for help on the go.
- CDC - How to Quit Smoking - Smoking & Tobacco Use
Links to government and other resources for quitting, with helpful information and strategies on how to quit tobacco use.
- Guide to Quitting Smoking
All about cancer, quitting and quitting resources from The American Lung Association.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Roberta Kyle