Smoking is a worldwide problem. It is a threat to health. It is responsible for millions of premature deaths each year.

Each year, more than five million people die of smoking-related illnesses worldwide. In fact, six out of eight leading causes of deaths are connected to smoking and the use of tobacco.

Here are some more facts:

– Smoking is responsible for 80 percent of deaths due to esophageal cancer; 85 percent of deaths due to emphysema and hundreds of deaths due to throat cancer. It also increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers 10 times.

– It multiplies the risk of cervical cancer four times;

– Smokers double their risk of getting breast and stomach cancers;

– It is responsible for 40 percent of bladder and kidney cancers;

– It raises the risk of cancer of the larynx by 25 to 30 times.

– It doubles the risk of stroke and multiplies the risk of getting heart disease four times.

– People who regularly inhale second hand smoke increases their risk of getting a heart disease by 50 to 60 percent.

But there is hope for smokers. The negative effects of smoking can be reversed should smokers decide to quit the habit. Here’s the good news:

1. Your blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal 20 minutes after your last puff of smoke

2. The carbon monoxide and nicotine levels in your blood decrease by 50 percent and your oxygen levels increase eight to twelve hours after you smoke;

3. Your nerve endings which are damaged due to smoking begin to heal and your normal sense of taste and smell is restored 24 to 48 hours after you smoke your last cigarette or cigar;

4. Your body is free from nicotine 72 hours after you stopped smoking. Withdrawal symptoms are expected to subside during this period and your breathing becomes easier;

5. Your lungs and blood circulation start to function normally two to 12 weeks after you stopped smoking. Other conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and cravings start to diminish;

5. You energy level increases three to nine months after you quit the habit. Shortness of breath and cough are expected to decrease at this point;

6. One year after you stopped smoking, you are 50 percent less likely to suffer from a heart attack than a regular smoker;

7. Five years after you’ve quit, your risk of having a stroke is near to that of a non-smoker;

8. Your chances of developing smoking-related cancers such as cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and other parts of the body decreases 10 years after you’ve quit. During this time, your risk of getting lung cancer also decreases by 50 percent to that of a smoker;

9. Fifteen years after dropping the habit, you are already free from the risks of smoking. Your risks of developing heart disease, cancer or suffering from a stroke would be similar to a person who has never smoked.