Just how long on the average does it take for former smokers to have similar risks of dying as nonsmokers? Well, for most smokers after 15 years of nonsmoking their risks of dying or having a heart attack, stroke or certain kinds of cancer approach those of nonsmokers.

However for heavy smokers that is those who have smoked a pack a day for 32 years or more, their risks are still elevated compared with nonsmokers. This doesn’t mean that if you are a member of one of those heavy smokers, you should just throw in the bucket and keep smoking.

Stopping smoking will decrease your risks of dying-this is important to realize. In fact, within 24 hours of quitting, levels of carbon monoxide, one of many nasty by products of smoking, will decrease. This in turn will allow your body to begin the healing process.

Another way of putting it is that you lose on the average about 15 minutes of life for every cigarette you smoke. And the diseases which smoking cause are not pleasant: The list is long and includes emphysema, which can lead to severe, chronic air hunger on oxygen dependency; arteriosclerosis, which causes all kinds of terrible maladies including heart attacks, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. The last disease often leads to such severe narrowing of the arteries of your legs, that even a few steps is impossible without severe pain. If surgery doesn’t work, then the extremity might need to be amputated. Of course all kinds of cancer, chief among these is lung cancer with a 5 year survival of under 20%. You are more likely to loose your teeth. You at 30 might look older than your nonsmoking friend’s mother. Oh and dementia is yet another problem, which can be caused by smoking.

Sound pleasant? Think about what risks are out there and quit! Often joining a support group, along with medications your doctor can prescribe, will increase your odds of successfully quitting.