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Interactive Tool: How Does Smoking Affect Your Lifespan?

What does this tool help you learn?

This interactive tool can be used to estimate the impact smoking will have on your lifespan. Based on the number of cigarettes you smoked in the past or how many you will smoke in the future, this tool estimates how many years the damaging effects of smoking may take away from your life.

What does your score mean?

The damage caused by smoking varies from person to person. This tool uses an estimate based on statistical averages to increase your awareness of how smoking may be impacting your life.

This tool does not calculate the long-term impact smoking will have on the quality of your life and the lives of people you care about. The disabling effects of smoking-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, or emphysema can cause significant suffering and medical expense, regardless of whether they directly affect the number of years of your life.

How much time smoking takes from your life also depends on lifestyle choices other than smoking, such as eating habits and exercise. These things may increase or decrease the amount of time your life will be shortened by smoking.

What's next?

Quitting smoking can be difficult, especially if you have been smoking for a long time. It may take several tries before you succeed. But even if you have a strong dependence on nicotine, it is still possible to quit. And even if you have smoked for many years, quitting smoking now can still increase your lifespan and improve the quality of your life.

The best way to stop smoking is to get help and to follow a plan. You can increase your chances of quitting if you:

  • Take medicines, such as bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix).
  • Use nicotine replacement therapy (gum, lozenges, patches, or inhalers).
  • Get counseling (by phone, group, or one-on-one).

Taking medicine and getting counseling works even better for quitting smoking.

If you are not sure about your readiness to quit smoking, use the interactive tool Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002). Annual smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and economic costs—United States, 1995–1999. MMWR, 51(14): 300–303. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1994). Surveillance for selected tobacco-use behaviors—United States, 1900–1994. MMWR, 43(SS-3): 1–43. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss4303.pdf.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics (2009). Table 26. Life expectancy at birth, at 65 years of age, and at 75 years of age, by race and sex. In Health, United States, 2008 With Chartbook, p. 203.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1994). Surveillance for selected tobacco-use behaviors—United States, 1900–1994. MMWR, 43(SS-3): 1–43. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss4303.pdf.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002). Annual smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and economic costs—United States, 1995–1999. MMWR, 51(14): 300–303. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics (2009). Table 26. Life expectancy at birth, at 65 years of age, and at 75 years of age, by race and sex. In Health, United States, 2008 With Chartbook, p. 203.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised May 20, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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