It’s never too late to stop smoking

Can you believe that the earth has made a full circle around the sun and is ready to begin another turn? If you’re like me, there’s been a lot of water gone under the bridge in 2015. Some good things, and some bad but one thing is for sure – 2015 can’t be changed. The past cannot be rewritten. It is now time to examine the last year and make some resolutions to improve ourselves for the future. But where do we start?

For some developing a New Year’s resolution may be difficult, but if you’re a smoker you have an excellent opportunity to make 2016 the year you become tobacco-free. Before we go any further, it must be stated that this article is not meant to disillusion all the good people I know who happen to smoke, but instead is meant to encourage those struggling to quit a habit most of them wish was never started.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average life expectancy of a smoker is at least 10 years less than non-smokers. But what do smokers usually die from? Everyone knows that smoking tobacco causes lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). What most people do not realize is that one of the greatest risks of smoking – even casually – is heart disease. The significance of this association cannot be overstated, because heart disease is the number one cause of death in America.

Occasionally I hear the following excuse in my office, “I’ve been smoking so long that it wouldn’t do me any good to quit.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. In my practice I have patients who are 90 years old that quit smoking 20 and 30 years ago. These people quit smoking when they were in their 60’s and 70’s! That tells me that it’s never, ever too late to quit.

It is well documented that within 10 years of smoking cessation a former smoker’s risk of having a heart attack approaches that of someone who has never smoked before. This offers a great incentive to stop smoking! It’s basically like a second chance – a do-over – when it comes to the disease that is most likely to cause your death as a smoker. Additionally, there is evidence that some of the damage to a smoker’s lungs improves as well. And infections like pneumonia and breathing problems caused by smoking also get better after ceasing tobacco use.

So for 2016 brainstorm for ways to improve your life; make a resolution. If you’re a smoker now, resolve to not be a smoker forever. You have so much to gain if you stop today. And remember that the average person who successfully stops smoking fails at least 7 times before they kick the habit. So if you fail, then try and try again. Here’s to a smoke free 2016. Make this the year!

Dr. Dustin Gentry is a Family Medicine physician at Winston Medical Center. He has an active clinic, nursing home, and hospital practice at WMC and is available for all your healthcare needs. Read this and other articles at

You can schedule an appointment today by calling 773-3503.