Originally posted by BRussellAfter doing just a little clicking around, it seems that quitting smoking can drop your chances of heart disease back down to the level of someone who has never smoked, but with lung cancer, you can reduce your risk by quitting, but your risk will always be elevated. Ugh. To quit for 20 years and then get nailed with it. \
There's a mixed message with pitfalls. Doctors and companies that sell cessation products have been drumming the message that it's always worth it to quit, and it is. But too many people convert that into "it's OK to start, as long as you eventually quit". Maybe Jennings' last act will be to remind a few kids out there that qutting is great, but it's no substitute for never starting in the first place.
It's not just lung cancer, too - your risks for developing cancer in all the other tissues that were bathed with carcinogens also remains high: tongue, mouth, esophagus, stomach, etc. The more general damage to your lungs doesn't go away, either - your risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema also remains high. It's sort of like hitting yourself in the head with a baseball bat. Yeah, it's better to stop than to keep swinging, but...
[Disclosure: my grandfather died in his 60s of the emphysema that tormented him for the last 20 years of his life. Like Jennings, he smoked in his youth, starting in the war, and quit in his 40s.]