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The Effects Of Smoking On Your Appearance

By Catherine Olivia

The Surgeon General of the United States has stated "Smoking cessation (stopping smoking) represents the single most important step that smokers can take to enhance the length and quality of their lives." It may also be the most important step that you can take to improve the quality of your appearance. In 1985 the term "smokers face" was added to the medical dictionary. A study done in Norway in 1998 cited that women emphasize the effect of smoking on physical appearance as a general motivation to quit, whereas men mentioned general health benefits.

I have to say truthfully that vanity had something to do with my decision to quit smoking. I had started smoking at the age of 16 when I started dating a smoker. Unfortunately, when the relationship ended the smoking didn't. I was left with a habit that would haunt me.

It was in the late 70's when I worked in a medical office where we administered chemotherapy to cancer patients. I knew more about the health consequences than most people witnessing it first hand on a daily basis. I even had an ashtray at my desk and smoked in the office. Like most smokers I was in a state of denial. I was in my early 20's and felt invincible. I said to myself "it won't happen to me". Besides, I enjoyed my cigarette and cup of coffee in the morning, and nothing could beat relaxing with a cigarette after a good meal. It seemed all my friends smoked too.

I was in my mid-30's when I met a man whose parents were smokers. When I looked at his mother's aged and horribly lined face I thought "Oh my God, that could be me in twenty more years." Seeing her made an impression on me that I'll never forget. She was obviously a long time smoker with the tell-tale vertical lines all around her mouth. She had a grayish tinge to her skin, which was as thin as it could be. She looked a full 10 years older than her true age. Her fingers were actually stained yellow by nicotine. It was a wake up call for me.

There is no denying the negative effects of smoking on your appearance. Smoking dries out the skin. Smoking causes blood vessel constriction of the top layers of skin which reduces the oxygen levels which leads to a dull complexion. Due to this constriction of blood vessels and poor circulation a smokers skin is thinner than a non-smokers skin. It has been shown in studies to be up to 40% thinner. Smoking reduces the level of collagen in the skin which leads to loss of elasticity and the quick formation of lines and wrinkles.

Of course you have everything to gain trying to quit smoking aside from just the improvement in your physical appearance. Another report released by the U.S. Surgeon General in 2004 entitled "The Health Consequences of Smoking," revealed that smoking (or living with a person who smokes) can cause disease in nearly every organ of the body, in men as well as women.

I was lucky that I successfully kicked the habit almost ten years ago. I do have a trace of those tell-tale lip lines and although you may not notice them, I do. I have spent a fortune over the years in skin care products. I'll never have the face I would have had if I had never started smoking. But today I am a much happier and more importantly, a much healthier person for having stopped.

Whatever your reason, vanity or health - just quit!


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