Keep your heart pumping for those you love: Quit smoking today

Any amount of smoking, even occasional smoking, damages the heart and blood vessels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) (illnesses relating to the heart and blood vessels) and causes one of every three deaths from CVD. Give a gift to yourself (and those you love) and quit smoking to decrease your risk of heart disease. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

How smoking breaks your heart (and the hearts of those around you)

Tobacco smoke can quickly affect the heart and blood vessels, causing your heart rate to rise almost immediately. The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces your blood’s ability to carry oxygen, this means less oxygen is getting to your heart. Meanwhile, your faster heart beat (due to smoking) means the heart needs more oxygen, so it continues to beat faster to try and deliver enough oxygen to the heart. But remember, carbon monoxide is preventing your blood from carrying enough oxygen. Over time, a fast heartbeat can strain your heart, creating a cycle that can lead to serious health problems, like coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States. In King County, heart disease is the second leading cause of death. Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers, and secondhand smoke causes nearly 34,000 early deaths from coronary heart disease each year in the United States among nonsmokers.

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How to mend your broken heart

Spoiler alert: Stop smoking! Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health, and the good news is that risk to your heart health decreases soon after you stop smoking. Your body will begin to heal itself almost immediately after your last cigarette. Within as little as 20 minutes your heart rate and blood pressure drop, within 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops, and within just a few weeks your circulation begins to improve. A year after you quit smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease becomes half that of a smoker’s, and between 5-15 years after quitting, your risk of stroke is reduced to that of a non-smoker. Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is as low as someone who has never smoked. If you have coronary heart disease, quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of a repeat heart attack, many studies show the reduction in risk is 50% or more.

Keys to quitting

We know it is difficult to quit smoking. Nicotine dependence is powerful, and it can take several attempts to stop smoking. Studies have shown that these five steps will help you quit and quit for good:

Get ready:  Set a quit date. Make changes to your environment, such as throwing out all cigarettes and ashtrays in your home or car. Think about any past quit attempts, what worked? What didn’t work?

Get support: Research shows that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider, and get individual, group or telephone counseling. Find Freedom from Tobacco support groups near you.

Learn new skills: When you first try to quit, change your routine such as taking a tobacco breaks hearts for blogdifferent route to work or drinking tea instead of coffee. Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke, try: talking to someone, exercising, writing in a journal, or drinking lots of water.

Get medication: Medications can help you reduce some of your urges to smoke and help get you through withdrawals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved these medications to help you quit smoking: the patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges (available over the counter) and a nicotine inhaler, nasal spray, Chantix and Zyban/Buproprion (all available by prescription). Ask your healthcare provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package to use medication properly. These medications, along with behavior change support can double your chances of quitting and quitting for good.

Be prepared: Most relapses happen within the first three months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try to quit several times before they are successful. Be prepared for difficult situations or triggers such as, stress, being around other smokers, weight gain or mood changes.

Quitting smoking is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. You can find more resources to help you quit here.

Originally published February 14, 2019

Image credit: Tobacco Breaks Hearts graphic by Make Smoking History.

34 thoughts on “Keep your heart pumping for those you love: Quit smoking today

  1. If a loved one was to gift me their word to quit smoking this Valentine’s Day, I would thank them profusely. There’s no better way to say “I love you” than to actively make a choice that will enable you to be with your loved ones for more years to come. CDC data displays that quitting not only lowers your risk for the diseases mentioned above, it can also add years to your lifespan. Further CDC data shows that smoking cigarettes kills more people in one year than HIV, drug use, alcohol use, AND car accidents. As the most preventable cause of death in the U.S., to quit smoking is to try and take your life back, to give yourself more years to live. In this case, however, quitting smoking for a loved one on Valentine’s Day not only gives you more years to live, it gives your partner more years to be with you, and it gives you both more years to be together, healthfully. Quitting for both yourself and your loved ones can help keep you accountable. And when you waver, your loved ones can help, reminding you of why you made this choice. If that doesn’t help, research by the CDC also shows that only a year after quitting your risk of a heart attack reduces dramatically. Even more exciting, after 10 years, your risk of lung cancer is reduced by 50%. All in all, quitting is worth it, especially when you look at the long-term benefits.

  2. From my personal experiences with health articles about smoking, a lot of the focus for the health effects of smoking is on the lungs so it’s refreshing to see an article that focuses on the effects smoking has on the heart. I’ve had relatives who smoke cigarettes who have tried to quit before and they’ve had a lot of problems with it but I think that sending them this article would give them some new resources to try! I’ve also noticed that in the US there’s a bigger cultural movement against smoking but there’s an increase in the amount of people vaping instead. I think it would be interesting to see what the long term effects of vaping are compared to cigarettes. Thanks for a great read!

  3. Clever way to post an article about smoking and the heart on Valentine’s day! It’s refreshing to have the health article provide detailed information on how smoking affects the heart, and steps to seek treatment. Personally, I have many peers who use e-cigarettes, but it is seen to be less severe than cigarettes even though nicotine is in both products. It would be interesting to see the effects of e-cigarettes, especially with its popularity in young adults. I am currently looking into House Bill 1054 for Washington, and I am curiously on the policy’s outcome on both youth smoking for cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Possibly in the future, health articles on e-cigarettes may become more prevalent than normal cigarettes!

  4. It’s interesting to see an article on smoking’s effect on the heart, rather than the lungs. It seems like the cardiovascular impact is often overlooked in more casual conversations about smoking. I also think the tips for quitting are particularly helpful, especially the suggestion to learn new skills. Most of the people I know who smoke have a specific routine when doing so, such as when they are on the phone, having their morning coffee or on their way home from work. Reestablishing routines that do not remind them of their smoking routine seems like it would be effective! As I was reading the article, I was thinking about how devices like the Juul fit in, and if they could be considered a sort of harm reduction approach. Like Nathan, I am also interested in seeing the health effects of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are especially interesting because of the ingredients in the liquid that’s used in the devices and the secondhand impacts. A 2014 FDA literature review raises concerns over the lack of data surrounding the impacts of inhaling many of the substances found in the liquids and the dangers these liquids pose to others, mainly children, should they ingest it. As e-cigarettes are often suggested as a means of quitting cigarettes, I would be curious to see if similar health benefits occur when quitting the use of e-cigarettes and if the any of the ingredients (aside from nicotine) had any adverse health effects of their own.

  5. Most people will immediately think of lung cancer when discussing the negative health outcomes that smoking causes. Lung cancer yields more deaths for both men and women than any other cancer, and it is most commonly associated with smoking than other types of cancer. But I liked the way this article tied smoking with cardiovascular disease (CVD). I think connecting smoking with other negative health outcomes is a smart way to push people to quit smoking. With CVD being the #1 cause of death in the US, it is important to make smokers aware that they are at an even higher risk. Smoking puts people at risk for other leading causes of death too. Following CVD, the #2 and #3 causes of death in the US are cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease respectively. Chronic lower respiratory disease includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and asthma, which are all exacerbated or caused by smoking. At #5 is stroke, and smoking puts you at a greater risk for having and dying from a stroke. Smoking has an incredibly large impact on a person’s health, but it goes much farther than just lung cancer. Connecting it with CVD is informative and a good step to discussing other impacts of smoking.

  6. This article is a great way to think about the impacts of smoking on the heart as well, when its too easy to think it’s only toxic for our lungs. A great themed presentation about coronary heart disease, although I wonder if there are more connections about how smoking hurts our hearts. The narrowing and thickening of our blood vessels caused by smoking causes blood pressure to rise. Plus, you have so many great points about how the heart rate rises because of the chemicals in cigarettes, but this blood vessel narrowing and thickening will make the problem worse by forcing the heart to beat faster to compensate. This is a great article, and after thinking about it I think the seriousness of the impacts of smoking on our hearts are still understated here.

  7. As a public health student, I appreciate and am excited about the movement towards making health topics such as smoking into somewhat fun and relatable content. I think that raising concerns and awareness abut critical public health issues in such a way that adds a bit of humor and reality to the topic can make them more engaging and powerful among non-public health individuals. I was also pleased to read an anti-smoking campaign that focuses more on heart health than lung health, as I feel that this tends to get overlooked when calling for the need to end tobacco smoking. It would be interesting to see if making more anti-smoking posts that address more of a variety of health concerns would have a better impact on tobacco smoking rates in the U.S. Particularly, I have seen an increase in tobacco smoking rates among college students and am curious to see if raising awareness of the entirety of the side effects of smoking would have an impact on this. Additionally, as raised by Kosuke, I am concerned with the shift towards vaping and e-cigarettes and hope to see more postings about the impact this has on health. Hopefully as more research is done on vaping and e-cigarettes we will be able to spread more awareness to its effect on health, as this post has done for tobacco cigarette smoking.

  8. I appreciate and am excited about the movement of public health postings towards more accessible and relatable content, such as this one which ties heart health and smoking to Valentine’s Day celebrations. I think that it is with informative posts such as these, which tie in a little bit of holiday humor, that make it more likely for individuals who smoke cigarettes to be impacted by the message being given. In particular, I think that there has been in increase in cigarette smoking among college youth and that the traditional anti-smoking campaigns which focus on all of the health outcomes of heavy smoking are less likely to impact the health actions of those which practice more social smoking. Because of this, focusing this post on heart health and tying it to the social, heart focused holiday adds a spin to the more common anti-tobacco smoking advertisements- in my opinion, making them more effective. Additionally, I appreciate how the this post focuses on the impacts of smoking on heart health, as it is not the most commonly discussed impact and may have a greater effect than continuing to focus on the respiratory side effects of smoking. However, as Kosuke mentioned, there has also been a shift from traditional cigarette smoking towards vaping and e-cigarettes so it is necessary to address this in future anti-smoking campaigns. It will be interesting to see if the same public health tactics can be used to address this new form of smoking activity, or if there will need to be continued efforts to frame the advertisements to target the younger population of smokers. In future articles, it would be nice to see more of a focus on vaping and e-cigarette smoking and how these activities may have similar impacts on health to cigarette smoking.

  9. I really enjoyed this article, what a clever timing to post it too. So often we think about the impacts of tobacco smoking on our lungs, and this points out that there are harmful effects on our hearts as well. I think there are even more interconnections here to examine; fatty plaque in blood vessels and thickening and narrowing of the blood vessels will cause the heart rate to rise even further, exacerbating the direct effects of the nicotine on heart rate. This could lead to pretty serious hypertension consequences as well. All in all, this article is a great start but may even understate the impact of smoking on your heart. By leaving tobacco behind, you’re really protecting your heart.

  10. I appreciate how you described exactly what happens to the heart when one smokes. I personally did not know that the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke prevents the blood from carrying oxygen. Knowing this detailed fact, it dissuades me from wanting to ever smoke even more now. Although many efforts have been made to stop large tobacco companies and the smoking of cigarettes overall, as a couple of these comments already have mentioned, a new issue is emerging having to do with e-cigarettes. Educating youth that vaping is still a hazardous form of smoking is an important next step. Solidifying and presenting strong, detailed evidence of the health impacts that e-cigarettes can cause to younger populations may be able to have the same effects as the campaigns in the early 90s did for cigarette smoking. I think presenting the evidence in a simplified, but detailed process like this article would have the greatest influence. I hope to find more studies on the effects of smoking, specifically with e-cigarettes. Keep up the good work!

  11. While it is common knowledge that smoking harms the lungs, I think all of the other organs, the heart especially, harmed by smoking are overlooked. I think it was very clever to address the harmful effects smoking by tying it to Valentine’s Day because it is fitting for the season and also addresses how negative smoking can be on the loved one’s surrounded by smokers such as secondhand smoke as well as losing partners, family members, friends, etc. I also really appreciated the depth and clarity on the description of how smoking effects the heart. The way we communicate information is extremely important and this article does an excellent job of being clear, succinct, and pushing for smokers to quit without placing blame or shame on them. I was intrigued by the piece of the diagram that listed an increase in the buildup of fatty plaque in blood vessels, so I went to smokefree.gov and found that these fatty deposits in the heart play a role in an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, as well as the risk of amputation of toes or feet if blockages are in the legs. If every fact listed in this article wasn’t convincing enough, I believe the amputation of body parts proves how harmful smoking is on the human body. Thank you for such a great read.

  12. I think drawing more attention to what smoking actually does to your body is important. A majority of people know that smoking is bad for you, but they may not know the exact reasons why it is or the extent to which it harms your body. Increasing education could have an impact on whether someone decides to smoke, how much someone smokes, and if someone decides to quit. Smoking affects not only the individual who smokes, but also the people around them, especially those living in the same home. Inhaling smoke is harmful for anyone, but especially young children and the elderly since they are more prone to respiratory issues. This article does a good job of discussing how your heart will be impacted over time, and it is beneficial to also include how secondhand smoke can impact people as well. I also appreciate that this post includes advice on how to quit. Telling someone to change a behavior that negatively impacts their health but not giving them the tools to do so is not helpful. This article does a good job of creating a foundation for someone who wants to stop smoking and making it seem feasible. Quitting smoking is something that is very difficult to do, but in the long run has an extremely positive impact on the individual and those around them. People should heed this article’s message and consider the impact smoking has on our bodies.

  13. I loved this article and I agree that the best gift you can give a loved one is to quit smoking. Aside from reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, quitting smoking also has several other benefits. It lowers the risk of developing diabetes, sense of smell and taste will improve over time, you’ll be able to partake in daily activities without running out of breath and you will be able to enjoy your activities without the interruption of having to go out for a smoke. There are several studies that show an individual will feel better about themselves physically and mentally, due to the boost in immune system and cleaner teeth/mouth (appearance). Resulting in the individual performing better in their relationships and business life.

  14. Quit smoking is definitely one of the best presents for Valentine’s day. The processes of how to quit smoking were demonstrated perfectly in this article and they are clearly feasible. I just want to add a little bit to that. First, also think about second hand smoke also could lead to health issues, so remember quitting smoke is also protecting your loved ones. Hope that could also help to build up some motivations. Besides, I have noticed that some teenagers began to smoke since they consider smoking as a sign of mature. Sometimes they would using smoke as “strategies” to attract others’ attentions. Maybe Valentine’s day could also be a time to communicate with them about the risks related to smoking and smoking is not a sign of mature. Instead of help people quit smoking at later stages, in my personal view, I feel it could be even better if the first time exposure was prevented. The last thing I want to say is there might be some triggers behind smoking behaviors for certain population. I knew a person who used to smoke every time he encountered difficulties in life. For this kind of person, I think it is better to find out their special relationships with smoking since those relationships could actually established the dependency rather than Nicotine. Back to the article, it provides a very clever and special idea of Valentine’s day gift. I would really love to share this idea with others! Thanks for offering such a great idea!

  15. Great post! I enjoyed reading this article and appreciated how you incorporated ways to help individuals quit smoking. Not only does smoking affect one’s health, but it also affects those around them, namely via second hand smoke. There has been an overwhelming amount of evidence surrounding the health consequences of smokers and even second hand smoking. We also know that there are thousands of deaths that are a result from health conditions from smoking such as lung cancer, heart disease and pulmonary disease. Individuals also can suffer from premature deaths from heart disease and lung disease even if they are non smoking adults just because of second hand smoke. I think that smoking and secondhand smoking being a public health concern, there should be an adopted policy to enact on more limiting smoking in outdoor spaces, such as beaches and parks. With the interest of public health safety, a ban on public smoking in beaches and parks enhances physical environments that’ll limit the negative effects of tobacco smoking and secondhand smoke. Such a policy would aim to address harms related to smoking including cardiovascular disease, lung disease, lung cancer, infertility in women and health conditions from second hand smoke. Cigarette smoking has also been linked with premature death from chronic diseases, economic losses to society, and even a burden on the healthcare system. The general public, especially vulnerable populations such as those with asthma or respiratory conditions and children, would view this policy as a necessity or required action to protect their health and well-being.The appropriate role of the health department in addressing these harms would be to protect and promote health, address fundamental causes of health risks, and achieve community health. Thanks for posting this!

  16. Your title and intro really hooked me. My childhood friend wished one Christmas for her dad to stop smoking and she said it was the best gift she’s ever received. Since most education on smoking focuses on your lungs, I learned a lot from your article and I am sure many did too. Speaking of blood clots and the thickening and thinning of blood vessels, this not only causes heart problems, but can also block the blood flow to the brain and/or cause blood vessels of your brain to burst, thus causing strokes as well. Also,I believe that your timeline of recovery was very impactful because it allows individuals who smoke to imagine their future process and goals looking forward, making their journey to quitting much more bearable. Based on information from the CDC, it is also said that about 7 out of every 10 adult smokers in the US stated they wished to quit smoking completely. It was not implicated how many from these 7 actually quit however, bringing me to ask the question of what are the other barriers, other than nicotine addiction, that stop many from fulfilling this wish to quit. Looking at how medications was one proposed strategy, I immediately thought of cost of treatments being a barrier in some cases. I really enjoyed this article and will be sharing it with my loved ones. Thank you!

  17. This was a great post to read. It was refreshing and fun to read a post about smoking that didn’t relate to lung cancer but instead related to the heart, just in time for Valentine’s Day! As a public health student, I know that smoking does not only effect the lungs but also the cardiovascular system, pregnancy, bone heath and oral health. In fact, the CDC mentions that smoking can lower fertility in both males and females. It can also cause cancer anywhere on the body, not just lungs. There are a lot of risks associated with smoking so it is important to highlight all of them. Given the serious health issues related to smoking, we can tell that this is a very important issue that public health had to tackle. However, we also know that addiction is very real so it becomes very hard for individuals to quit. So support, especially from friends and family is very important and can help many individuals who want to quit.
    Overall, this article did a great job at defining the health issue, explaining how it can impact an individual’s health, as well as listing great resources and tips to help those who want to quit smoking. I really like how the article included some data about positive health impacts when an individual quits (like how after 15 years of quitting, cardiovascular health is restored a that of a non-smoker). I think that’s an important point that can encourage people to quit for the sake of their own health. They can know that they can gain back control of their health. I am also curious to learn more about how vaping, which has become a huge trend over the last few years (especially among the youth), can impact the heart.

  18. The article is quite inspiring and engaging. Facts about smoking’s effect on the lungs and various types of cancers are usually overemphasized, while its impact on cardiovascular diseases is often overlooked. This blog post articulates the biological mechanism of heart diseases caused by smoking clearly and proposes a detailed solution to tobacco cessation. The other point that I like about this article is the insertion of an educational graph to explain the adverse health impacts caused by tobacco use. The article also seeks to promote tobacco cessation by listing facts about body recovery and a tentative timeline to reduce the pressure faced by individuals who are trying to quit smoking. In my opinion, this article did a great job on disseminating knowledge about smoking and its impact on cardiovascular systems. The author also highlights the importance of family and friends’ support in the tobacco withdrawal campaign and thereby destigmatizing individual smokers and defending social justice. To establish a smoke-free environment will require support from all sectors of the community along with legislative enforcement. House Bill 1074, a bill that protects youth from tobacco and vapor products by increasing the legal age of sale of tobacco products is still pending for adoption. As e-cigarettes are increasingly prevalent among adolescents, and there are limited studies conducted on its impacts on health, a proactive law can reduce youths’ exposure to tobacco products and improve their health effectively. In summation, this article enables me to have a quick overview of smoking’s impact on heart disease and some prospective interventions to address it.

  19. What a gift it would be to have our loved ones quit smoking. I agree, that would’ve been the ideal Valentine’s day! This was a refreshing take on the impacts of smoking. Of course, most people will immediately think of lung cancer when discussing the health risks of smoking, but this is because of the repetitive (typically shock-focused) awareness campaigns. I really enjoyed the approach taken here of grabbing the readers attention with a catchy hook and critical but to the point information. Pairing up-to-date statistics with resources and compassion is the perfect approach to what can be a very sensitive topic for some people. No demonizing, just facts and resources for those in need. This is especially important for the (what seems to be) growing rate of tobacco use among young people. The use of E-cigarettes, vape pens, and other alternative tobacco sources are clearly on-trend within our younger population. How then do the traditional anti-tobacco campaigns apply? As a member of the generation raised on Just Say No, and endless lectures on the dangers of tobacco use, I can argue, they just aren’t working anymore. This article excites me because it takes a new approach to the, what seems to be, a never-ending lecture from public health and medical professionals. Connecting smoking to Cardio Vascular Disease and other health outcomes is a smart way to grab attention and encourage people to quit smoking. For this particular article, discussing CVD (the #1 causes of death in the U.S.) was a very efficient way to get people talking about the seriousness of smoking. I am interested in seeing more articles, such as this, spread throughout the media and hopefully grab the attention of all generations of tobacco users. Thank you for the great read!

  20. I appreciate how approachable and easy to read this article is. I think that all too often public health information is not translated into a format that is easily accessible and readable for the general public. The visual aid which clearly label the effects of smoking on the heart is especially helpful to capture a wider audience.

    The article describes that much of the damage to the heart caused by smoking is a result of a rising heart rate. Making the heart work harder than normal over and over takes a toll on the organ. Is it specifically nicotine that causes this increase in heart rate? If so, wouldn’t smoking e-cigarettes, like Juuls, have the same negative effects on the heart? If this is true I wonder if we will see a spike in rates of CVD in the generation of young adult Juulers when they get older. Some other questions that came up for me as I read was regarding the body healing itself after you quit smoking. I was wondering if there is a frequency and length of time smoking that leads to irreversible effects on the body. Lastly, the article state specific decreases in risk at certain intervals of time after quitting smoking. As a public health student, I am critical of data and always trying to think about where it is coming from. Especially data on risk, I feel that there are many opportunities for confounding which decrease the validity of these numbers.

  21. This blog post caught my attention in a way where I related to it since I have people in my family, especially my dad, who smoked but eventually quit (it’s been years since he quit!). But my other relatives still do it even though I feel like they know the health consequences around it. Which lead me to wonder why people who smoke continue to do so even though it’s been researched and proven the negative health impacts of smoking. I wonder what other interventions that can be implemented to really effectively reduce the people who smoke; how can we really ingrain in their minds to stop smoking and let them know what smoking (perhaps both cigarettes and E-cigarettes) does to them and their health. Maybe this is a gap in public health that can be worked on in the future.

  22. This article was attention-grabbing and very clever to post on Valentine’s Day. As we think about our loved ones on this holiday, I thought it was really interesting and different that this anti-smoking ad made smokers not just think about quitting smoking for their own hearts, but also for the hearts of their loved ones who might be hurting because of their addiction. As stated in the article, smoking can actually kill as it can lead to coronary heart disease which is the leading cause of death in the US. I think it is really good that this ad also shows us the science behind how exactly smoking can hurt the heart and lead to coronary heart disease as most anti-smoking ads don’t always take the time to explain this and I think it would be really helpful for smokers to realize exactly what kind of harms they are putting their bodies through. These negative health consequences are preventable and can be prevented by quitting smoking or just never starting in the first place. I think anti-smoking ads like these are incredibly important especially for our younger generations who are all so into e-cigarettes now and don’t realize at all the harms these kinds of smoking can also do to their bodies. If there were more anti-smoking ads like these that were revamped and targeted specifically for these younger generations it could prove to be very beneficial for their health and potentially even end up being life-saving.

  23. The title of this article really caught my attention, especially as someone who has smokers in my family. I really enjoyed this campaign to promote a focus on heart disease rather than cancer or lung disease, which I feel is a larger focus of many previous anti-smoking campaigns. I think the information about the dangers of smoking to the heart were broken down in a way that could be understood by the public in an eye catching way that will attract public eyes. I really appreciate this turn to heart disease, as it is a greater burden in society as the #1 cause of death in the United States, and due to the evidence presented by the CDC it is evident that smoking causes huge strain and damage to one’s heart. Additionally, I think it is really effective that the post provides evidence-based quitting strategies and resources for receiving help with quitting, and encourage smokers to not become discouraged by relapsing.From a personal perspective, my father has struggled with tobacco addiction for years and he is now starting to see the toll his addiction has taken on his heart health. I think focusing on giving a gift to your loved ones is a good point to convey to individuals to improve their health, as sometimes an individual responds better to staying healthy for loved ones rather than themselves. I think this is an article my Dad would respond to, so I am going to send it his way. However, it may be a consideration that focusing on individual health behaviors in public health is less effective than making a change further up on the social-ecological model such policy and community interventions such as public smoking bans and increased taxes on tobacco products in order to “make the healthy choice the easy choice”. I think based on the years of focus on how smoking is dangerous for your health would already be influential to a smoker, and it may be important to investigate other barriers to them quitting as health behavior is strongly influenced by an individual’s social and built environment. A few additional questions I have regarding this post is how e-cigarrettes may impact heart health, as well as how second-hand smoke can impact the heart health of those exposed. I think in a plea to quit smoking as a gift to your family, it might be powerful to include the impacts of second-hand smoke exposure on the health of loved one’s as well. Additionally, I wonder how circulated this article is, as the audience for a public health blog is likely to be knowledgable and already avoid these negative health behaviors, so I wonder how effective the article is in this context, or where else it may be circulated.

  24. As someone with a loved one who struggles with tobacco addiction, the title of this post quickly caught my eye. I think it was really impactful to use a plea to improve your health from your loved ones. Additionally, it is interesting to see an anti-smoking campaign focus on heart health rather than tobacco related cancer or lung disease. I think it is important to shift to a focus of heart health as cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States. The article broke down the implications for heart health in an engaging, eye-catching, and easy to read way for public understanding. Providing evidence based-strategies and resources to quit tobacco directly below the implications of heart health was effective and it is important to provide quitting strategies so those reading the article don’t have to go out and try and do their own research for the most effective ways of quitting. I have watched my Dad struggle with addiction to tobacco for years, and I think this article would resonate strongly with him so I am planning on sending it his way. I think it was encouraging that the article urged smokers to not get discouraged if they struggle with quitting and provided statistics for the long term health improvements that come from quitting. However, because this post focused on quitting for the sake of loved ones, it would be more powerful to include how second-hand smoke can impact the health of those regularly exposed. Additionally, I thought it was interesting that the article did not suggest e-cigarretes or vaping to try and quit smoking, as these methods have their own health implications. It would be interesting if the author included how e-cigarretes impact heart health as well in order to reach a wider audience that may be struggling with nicotine addiction, although this may be a different topic from tobacco smoke altogether. It is also important to note that targeting individual health behaviors in public health campaigns is less effective than interventions aimed at higher levels of the social-ecological model such as policy or community. We have already seen a plethora of anti-tobacco campaigns aimed at individual behavior and health outcomes, but it might be more impactful to focus on other interventions such as public smoking bans or tobacco taxes that help “make the healthy choice the easy choice”. An additional concern I have regarding the article is other sites that this may be posted. I think the public health community is already aware of the health implications and dangers of smoking, and this may not be the most effective audience to view this post. I think in order to reach an audience with higher smoking rates it would be better to circulate to other websites, and I wonder where else this post is available.

  25. I think this article was very well written and is very relevant as well. A lot of people think that since we’ve discovered that smoking is bad for you, it’s not as much of an epidemic in the U.S. but they are wrong. According to the CDC, smoking among all Adults was at 14.0% (or 34.3 million people) in 2017. This is a tremendous amount of people when you consider all of the horrible side effects smoking brings along with it. I think it is very important to highlight the fact that smoking increases your chance (2-4 times) of getting Coronary Artery Disease which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. currently. This means that, those who smoke are already at risk for this disease but then they put themselves at a detrimentally higher risk simply with this behavior. One thing I thought the article did well was pinpoint how people can quit. The CDC also talks about how many adults that are currently smoking would like to quit, they just don’t know how or don’t think they can, but this article gives some tips on how to quit and can start the conversation about breaking the addiction to nicotine. I think smoking is a conversation that sometimes gets left out of the conversation since there has been some amazing work to decrease the number of smokers in America, but it is not enough. Smoking cigarettes should be almost non-existent with amount of knowledge that is available to consumers about the risks it has on themselves but also on those who are around second hand smoke. I think people need to spend more time educating others and themselves on the risks and detriments of smoking and talking about it rather than just assuming that it isn’t a problem anymore. If we continue to see that it is a problem then we can helping people who want to stop smoking.

  26. This is a great post! A public health public service announcement such as this is a great way to encourage smokers to quit smoking. It lays out all the potential health risks of smoking while not condemning those who do (as it may turn them away). I also liked that it talked about other potential harms of smoking instead of focusing on lung cancer as the consequence that it is commonly associated with as not everyone who smokes is diagnosed with lung cancer. I also like that it gives some information on the process of quitting smoking as well. I wonder if a similar post of this type could be done on e-cigarettes as another commented mentioned of its popularity among younger people and the potential messaging that could go into that.

  27. If I had a loved one I too would tell them to put down the cigaret. Using tobacco products is one of the most taxing things a person could do for their health. I would recommend that you help your loved one to quit smoking. The most loving thing you could do for them this valentines season would be to help them quit smoking and possibly allow them to live longer yielding to more time with you! This could be one of the most fulfilling journeys the two of you embark on together. This season help your loved one prevent unnecessary CVD!

  28. I agree, the most loving thing you could do for your loved one this season is to encourage them to put down the cigarets for good! Smoking can lead to various different side effects that often can cause death at a young age. Besides the health impacts smoking can have, by helping your loved one quit for good they will also be able to save lots of money in the long run which means more resources and a longer life to spend more time with you! This season help out your loved one by encouraging them to quit smoking and embark on this life changing journey together!

  29. Most anti-smoking ads that I have seen are fear campaigns. Some portray a smoker as a hostage to a cigarette and use damage to aesthetics, like tooth decay from gum disease, to scare people from smoking. Even though similar health consequences are likely, ads like that can make people who do smoke feel criticized or be stigmatized by others. What I appreciate about this article is 1) it’s catchy hook and theme, and 2) it’s gentle approach to help smokers quit. Associating Valentine’s day with CVD emphasizes the more internal consequences and can reel in anyone who may or may not have a health background. My favorite section is “how to mend your broken heart.” Most campaigns suggest quitting without acknowledging the health benefits of quitting for even 20 minutes, 12 hours, a year, and 5 years. And to me, these facts are more encouraging for someone to quit. Another aspect that I appreciate about the article are the suggestions that can lead to positive outcomes such as getting support and being prepared. And what’s most important is that the article points out the reality that quitting has moments of relapse and triggers. But it continues to reassure someone who smokes to not be discouraged. I would say that this article did an exceptional job in providing education about the effects of smoking on the heart without “shaming” anyone, and by giving suggestions and support, the article gives a sense of autonomy to the reader.

  30. I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2012 at the age of 63. I had been a heavy smoker, my symptoms started out with dry cough and shortness of breath, i ended up in the hospital, on a ventilator. I should have known it was coming, but like most smokers, thought it would never happen to me. My COPD got significantly worse and unbearable because of my difficulty catching breath. Last year, i started on a natural COPD Herbal therapy from Organic Herbal Clinic, i read a lot of positive reviews from patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on it. I had great relief with this herbal treatment. I breath very much better now, no case of shortness of breath or chest tightness since treatment. Visit Organic Herbal Clinic website w ww .organicherbalclinic. c om. This COPD treatment is a miracle!!

  31. I think this article really brings to light the adverse effects of smoking not just on the lungs, but on the heart and the entire cardiovascular system. I have been working at the ICU since fall, and I have seen a wide array of admits, due to smoking related issues such as COPD, lung cancer, coronary heart disease, etc. This article reminded me of a time when I encountered a middle-aged patient with a ejection fracture of just 10%, and I remember the intensivist going into the patient’s room and explaining what the next steps should be. I really enjoyed the call to action section of this article, as it shows that it’s never too early to quit smoking, and that there are multiple ways of going about it. It’s very empathetic and compassionate; if a current smoker that is looking to quit in the near future read the article, it has a strong potential to impact that person to take an extra step. As I am currently enrolled in a policy, ethics, and social justice class for my public health major, my hope is that articles like these become more prominent, and become the forefront of policy change, so that health and overall well-being can be improved.

  32. This article is very important as we often forget about the cardiovascular impact that is caused by smoking as we usually just focus on the lungs instead. Both organs are negatively impacted and it is important to keep that mind. As the author mentioned there has been a shift from smoking cigarettes to vaping and smoking e-cigarettes. Many have argued that vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, however there has not been enough research to justify that because vaping is relatively new. One large concern with vaping and e-cigarettes is that it could actually lead to an increase in smoking traditional cigarettes, especially in the youth. Meaning that vapes are opening the door to cigarettes and other unhealthy habits in the youth, but we need to be funding more research on this. One reason why organizations like the CDC have not had much research on this could be due to the lobbying and corruption that is caused by big cigarette companies, as many of them have shifted their focus to the e-cigarette and vaping business by buying out the manufacturers and companies that produce them. The routine must be broken to prevent further damaging of the cardiorespiratory disease in smokers, and the damage it does to second-hand smokers. Many of smokers have argued that their lungs are perfectly fine as some of them do not develop lung cancer, but this doesn’t mean smoking is not bad for them. As I greatly appreciate that this article focuses on heart health because smokers need to know that both the lungs and the hearts are greatly impacted by smoking. In future research I would like to see the increase likelihood of smoking traditional cigarettes in the youth after vaping for some time, using vapes as a gateway drug in a sense. I would also like to see research done on the adverse health effects of vapes and how they impact people and their health, especially the youth.

  33. Great article, Carley. It’s interesting that in this article, it doesn’t specifically mention alternatives to smoking, like the patch, zyn (nicotine for your gums), or vaping. I would want to know more about Seattle and King County Public Health’s perspectives on these alternatives, especially the patch and zyn. I am also interested to know the specifics of who are considered smokers and non-smokers. I think in all of my experience with public health and just my knowledge of anti-smoking campaigns, seldom do they really break down people beyond smokers and non-smokers. But now that I’m in college, I see a huge range in people who smoke: There are people who smoke every day and are clearly in the “smoker” category, but if you’re 21 and you’ve had a handful of cigarettes in your life, do you still qualify as a smoker, even if it’s not habitual or common? I would want to know more about the gradient of heart disease prevalence that afflicts people who range from those who smoke a handful of cigarettes in their lives to those who smoke every day or even every week.

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