Some people find that smoking helps reduce stress and other symptoms related to mental health. However, this may not be the case, according to a study published in the scientific journal Cochrane Library. After analyzing the evidence from 102 observational studies, with more than 169,500 people, they found, quitting smoking for at least six weeks can improve mental well-being by reducing anxiety, depression and stress.
By reviewing this research, the study authors found that people who quit smoking found they experienced less depression, stress, and anxiety, compared to those who continued to smoke. In addition to this, those who quit tobacco experienced more positive feelings and, in general, better psychological well-being.
Furthermore, the researchers found, quitting smoking had no impact on the quality of these people’s social relationships. There is even the possibility of a link between quitting smoking and a small improvement in social well-being. However, the researchers note that there is some uncertainty regarding the true size of this benefit, given the design of the studies analyzed. For this reason, they suggest future studies to strengthen the evidence on the mental health impacts of quitting smoking.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use is an important risk factor for vascular and respiratory diseases and 20 different types of cancer. According to the organization, more than 8 million people die due to tobacco use, mainly in low- and middle-income countries, due to intense interference from the tobacco industry.
There are also significant risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, which causes at least 1.2 million deaths a year. Of these, about 95,000 children die each year due to diseases related to secondhand smoke, says the WHO.
According to the Spanish Heart Foundation, quitting smoking improves breathing and reduces fatigue, as well as the predisposition to coughing and contracting infections. It also helps the skin and face recover from premature aging, and restores the sense of taste and smell. Quitting smoking slows down the deterioration of lung function, reduces the rate of heart attack and sudden death by between 20% and 50%. After a year without smoking, the risk of myocardial infarction is cut in half.
Although the evidence for improved mental health is inconclusive and more studies need to be done, quitting smoking has many benefits that are widely supported by medical evidence. Smoking is a public health problem and therefore governments must make accessible options available to people to help them quit smoking. For people who want to quit smoking, specialists suggest consulting a doctor to work out a plan to help them stop smoking.