Health & Fitness

Struggling to put your cigarette down? Here's why and how you'll quit

We can hear you lament that you've tried. But these push factors will help you break the habit for good

Photo: Shutterstock

Even though it is universally acknowledged that smoking is detrimental to your short and long term health, and is expensive and illegal in many social spaces, many people still smoke cigarettes.

In fact, Health Hub by Singapore’s Ministry of Health states that: “According to a fact sheet produced by the Health Promotion Board in May 2015, 18 per cent of residents were smokers in 1992. The figure started to fall after that but continued to hover between 13 and 15 per cent.”

Whilst the figure is slowly declining, the fact remains many people worldwide still choose to smoke, even though it:

  • Affects men’s sperm and reduces fertility
  • Increases the risk of birth defects and miscarriage
  • Causes diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels such as heart disease, blood clots and strokes
  • Causes type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Causes types of cancer anywhere in the body, including lungs and throat
  • Causes gum disease and tooth loss
  • Affects your mood and mental wellbeing (due to adrenaline release in reaction to toxins in the cigarette)

Breaking the habit

Photo: Shutterstock

In fact smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, and overall health, including your outward appearance — ageing your skin and causing premature wrinkles. Let’s not forget to mention the impact second hand smoke has on your family members too.

Not only is smoking bad for your health, it is also polluting the environment. Cigarette butts are the biggest contamination factor of our oceans, with the NGO Ocean Conservancy collecting over 60 million cigarette butts from beaches since 1986. Once in the ocean, butts slowly dissolve and release the pollutants they absorbed from the tobacco — such as nicotine, arsenic and lead.


Photo: Shutterstock

The good news to counteract all of the above negativity, is that once smokers quit, things start to repair, quickly. Below is the body healing timeline once you stub out your last cigarette:

  • 20 minutes: your blood pressure and heartbeat will start to normalise.
  • 12 hours: the body cleanses itself of the excess carbon monoxide from the cigarettes.
  • 24 hours: the risk of heart attack begins to decrease.
  • 2 days: heightened sense of smell and more vivid tastes as these nerves heal.
  • 3 days: the nicotine levels in a person’s body are depleted.
  • 1 month: a person’s lung function begins to improve.
  • 9 months: the lungs have significantly healed themselves.
  • 1 year: risk for coronary heart disease decreases by half.
  • 2-5 years: risk of having a stroke falls to about that of a non-smoker.
  • 10 years: risk of lung cancer is cut by half.
  • 15 years: the likelihood of coronary heart disease is the equivalent of a non-smoker.
  • 20 years +: the risk of death from smoking-related causes, including both lung disease and cancer, drops to the level of a person who has never smoked in their life