Updated 31 May 2017

SEE: How your body reacts when you quit smoking

Every year, nearly 8 million adults light up 27 billion cigarettes. Here's a look at how your body reacts when you stop smoking.

Tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year and current trends, according to the World Health Organization, show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.

“Smoking increases your risk for heart attacks and stroke, lung cancer, pneumonia and emphysema – and also doubles your risk of tuberculosis. 50% of smokers will die early – 14 years earlier on average – from a smoking related disease,” says Prof Richard van Zyl-Smit of the UCT Lung Institute. 

Second-hand smoke is dangerous too

“The consequences of second hand smoking around infants and even unborn children are well known. Tobacco affects foetal development, increasing the risk of stillbirths, miscarriages, premature birth, certain congenital malformations, poor foetal growth, and sudden infant death syndrome,” says Prof Tony Westwood, Head of paediatrics at Somerset Hospital, Western Cape Department of Health.

In fact, It's illegal to smoke in your car with a child under the age of 12.

Quit today

“There is no magic solution that will work for everybody, so the approach to stopping smoking should be individualised and often requires a combination of strategies,” says Prof Van Zyl-Smit, who also authored the South African tobacco smoking cessation guidelines.

“Successful quitting will require emotional support and possibly medication such as nicotine replacement. A clear strategy, a defined start date, a long-term plan, and ongoing support for success or relapses increases the chances of success.” 

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Read more: 

Low nicotine cigarettes may help you quit

Quitting smoking may help you gain friends

Here's your chance to stop smoking


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