Whilst vaping and other alternatives are gaining popularity, some people have still yet to find anything that can lure them from the habit of smoking. But how many times have you heard a smoker say: “don’t worry, I’ll quit in my 30s”. Well, what is the science behind this? Is there a perfect age that you can quit smoking and completely eradicate any of the health risks? Or is it true that each cigarette you consume takes 5 minutes from your life expectancy?
There are many theories out there, but recent studies suggest that quitting smoking before the age of 35 has the same health risks as someone who has never smoked before. Let’s find out the truth.
It’s odd that an activity that can seem so disgusting the first time you do it, can then become a craving only a few times later. This is smoking in a nutshell. But what actually is it? Well, the process of smoking can involve a variety of different burning plant materials. Ultimately, it consists of lighting a natural substance – be it tobacco or cannabis – and then inhaling and exhaling it. It needs it to be lit because the compounds within cannabis, for example, are activated when it is heated. This is why you can’t simply eat weed plants to get high. Tobacco is the most commonly smoked plant, and it contains the addictive substance of nicotine. Nicotine raises blood pressure, increases energy and releases dopamine into the body. It’s these feelings that are so addictive. HSS writes:
“Over time, the brain begins to crave that feeling from nicotine and people need to use more and more tobacco to get that same good feeling. Nicotine can also give some users a surge of energy or focus, because nicotine reacts with the adrenal glands to release adrenaline into the body.”
Whilst e-cigs containing nicotine have become more popular, smoking is still a highly popular habit. It is believed that there is now an all-time peak number of global smokers, with 1.1 billion people taking part in it. Alternatively, there is believed to be 82 million global e-cig users. Whilst vaping is definitely helping people to quit smoking, there is still a record breaking amount of people doing it. The problem is far from gone.
History of Smoking
Smoking has a very long history, with tobacco being used for centuries. In fact, the plant has been growing wild in the Americas for around 8000 years. At the beginning, around 2000 years ago, it was smoked and chewed in religious ceremonies. It only entered Europe in the 1500s, with Christopher Columbas discovering it, and then 200 years later it became a highly popular habit and the industry was fully formed.
Back then, it would have been rolling tobacco but in the 1800s cigarette machines were created. This allowed people to smoke without the need or skill to roll. At that time, these devices could create 200 cigarettes every minute, whereas now they can do around 9000. Many people wonder why the tobacco industry took off in the way that it did. Well, the truth is that it was a very cheap industry to be a part of – especially with these cigarette machines – but also it was an addictive habit. Addiction basically ensures that there’s always demand in the market.
However, as time went on, more people became aware of the dangers of smoking. As early as the 1600s, English writers began to find similarities between smokers’ health and chimney sweepers’ health. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until the 1900s that any of these findings were taken seriously. It was not in the interest of the tobacco companies to listen to such warnings. But, eventually, in the 1970s, a cigarette advert ban was finally implemented. History writes:
“On April 1, 1970, President Richard Nixon signs legislation officially banning cigarette ads on television and radio. Nixon, who was an avid pipe smoker, indulging in as many as eight bowls a day, supported the legislation at the increasing insistence of public health advocates.”
It was becoming better known that combustion could seriously damage your health. When a cigarette is lit, it begins the process of combustion, which causes cancerous toxins and dangerous carcinogens to enter the body. This can cause cancer and the failure of major organs. Nowadays people are fully aware of the health risks of smoking but, even with adverts banned, there are a record number of smokers. However, with rising populations, records like these may be slightly skewed.
The Best Age to Quit Smoking
The old saying goes that it is never too late to quit smoking. Stopping allows your body to recover. Obviously the older you are, the less time you have for your body to rejuvenate, as well as the more work that needs to be done. A recent study by Giant US has suggested that the best age to quit smoking to avoid death risks is 35. Of course, stopping before this age would be even better but this – according to them – is the cut off point.
The study used survey data from 550,000 adults. These included people who smoked, used to smoke and have never smoked. Of these participants, around 75,000 of them had died by 2019. Therefore, the study was able to look into who was more likely to do so from their smoking habits. The interesting finding was this:
“Those who quit by age 45 cut their excess risk of death by up to 90 percent, and those who quit before age 35 showed death rates very close to those of never smokers.”
This is not the first time that findings like this have occurred. In fact, this is the third large study to suggest that 35 may be the ideal age to quit. Cancer Council has also noted that, whilst it does depend on people’s individual bodies and how they react to the harms of tobacco, quitting before the age of 35 does usually allow the body to recover. This includes many of the organs, not just the lungs. Research published in 2004 by Doll & Peto wrote that a smoker loses 3 months of their life for every year they put off quitting after the age of 35.
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It seems true that quitting before the age of 35 allows for a complete reversal of risk. Yet again it’s important to note that, evidently, it would be even better if someone had never smoked a cigarette in their lives. However, this is not the world we live in. Smoking is addictive and we must cater to a world that has over 1 billion smokers in it.
It is very easy to claim that you’ll quit smoking at some point in the future, but then never actually get around to it. Perhaps having a confirmed recommended age of quitting may give people the boost to genuinely stop. If smokers know that they have until 35 to enjoy their smoking habit, rather than an unknown date in their future, then this could become a worldwide agreement. The truth is that our bodies have the ability to heal, even after decades of smoking, but only if we let them.
Knowledge and specificity is definitely power. If you have ever been a smoker then you will know that the addiction can blind you. It is hard to know when exactly to stop, but you just keep telling yourself that you will one day. This study, with their confirmed age of 35, could be the difference if we allow it to become a common knowledge.
With more studies like this one, perhaps it could become governmental guidance for smokers to aim to quit before the age of 35. But also, for those who are older, it’s important for them to realize that stopping at all still seriously eradicates the likelihood of health risks. Whether these studies are fully reliable or not, we need to give them more time and more space to continue their line of thought. The hope is that this guidance will be able to help as many people as possible.
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