A healthy lifestyle after quitting smoking offers many benefits

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States

FILE - Cigarette butts fill a smoking receptacle outside a federal building in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021. According to government survey data released Thursday, April 27, 2023, U.S. adults are smoking less. Cigarette smoking dropped to another new all-time low in 2022, with 1 in 9 adults saying they were current smokers. Meanwhile, e-cigarette use rose, to about 1 in 17 adults. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (J. Scott Applewhite, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

It’s World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday, a day held every year to highlight the dangers of using tobacco products like cigarettes.

According to research, those who quit and go on to adopt a healthy lifestyle can reduce their risk of death.

“It shows that it’s not just about quitting smoking. It’s really about making these amazing lifestyle changes that will carry you through and really will lower your cardiovascular risk, cardiovascular mortality and death from other things such as cancers and respiratory diseases as well,” said Neha Vyas, MD, family medicine physician for Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.

The researchers found that former smokers who were stricter with their body weight, diet, physical activity and alcohol intake had a lower risk for death, cancer and other diseases. And that was regardless of previous smoking patterns.

Vyas said people may need to try multiple times before successfully quitting smoking. However, she encourages smokers to not give up.

She’ll often tell people to avoid any triggering environments where there will be smoking, like at a bar or party. It can also be helpful to build a support system, so you’re held accountable.

“It’s important to remember that it can sometimes take more than one attempt to quit smoking altogether, so certainly get support from your family, your friends, healthcare professionals. There are many resources out there,” she said.

The CDC reports that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. Nearly 40 million adults still smoke cigarettes.