DO WHAT YOU
WANT TO DO
Gord Ferguson has experienced
the cardiovascular improvements
that come with quitting smoking.
When he quit smoking at 35 years
old, after 17 years of puffing,
the first thing he noticed was his
cardiovascular capacity improved.
“I found out very quickly that
I could do all the activities I love
without getting out of breath,”
Now almost 60 years old,
Ferguson is a poster boy for fitness.
He regularly goes on back-country
ski trips, bike rides and hikes that
are more strenuous than those in
“Looking at my smoking friends
Pass on your choice
now,” Ferguson says, “I know
I wouldn’t be able to do anything
I love to do if I wouldn’t have quit
And he passed a heart fitness
test with results that a teenager
would envy: in the excellent range
for 15- to 19-year-olds.
When you don’t smoke, your family
and friends are less likely to smoke.
Youth with a family member and
a best friend who use tobacco
have a 90 per cent greater chance
of smoking than youth who don’t.
HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH
As a smoker, John Dunn was influenced by the attitude towards tobacco use.
He noticed the graphic images on cigarette packages and heard the public
service announcements. He couldn’t ignore new government regulations on
“It became a dirty secret. You couldn’t smoke around people and I certainly
never smoked around the kids. There was shame,” he says. “When I quit
smoking that shame went away.”
When he quit four years ago, he noticed almost immediately that his mental
health improved. He felt more in control of his life. “I felt that if I could quit
smoking, then I could do anything,” he says.
The feeling is common: many people who quit smoking say cigarettes used
to control their lives.
“I stopped hacking and I quit choking when I laughed. I literally got my laugh
back,” says Dunn.
He says being tobacco free for four years is a big deal to him and he’s
looking forward to celebrating 15 years. That’s when statistics say Dunn has
virtually the same risk of experiencing a smoke-related heart attack as a
“Then I’ll remind myself of what I’ve accomplished,” he says.
For anyone who’s ever smoked,
the effects of quitting are nearly
immediate and certainly long-lasting,
says Health Canada.
Within 20 minutes of quitting your
blood pressure drops to a level
similar to what it was before
your last cigarette.
Within eight hours, the carbon
monoxide level drops in your body
and the oxygen level in your blood
increases to normal.
Within 48 hours, your chances of
having a heart attack start to go
down and your sense of smell and
taste begin to improve.
Within 72 hours, your lung capacity
increases and breathing becomes
Within two weeks to three months,
blood circulation improves and
your lung function increases up
to 30 per cent.
Within six months, coughing,
sinus congestion, tiredness and
shortness of breath improve.
Within one year, your risk of
suffering a smoking-related heart
attack is cut in half. So is your
chance of getting cancer in your
mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder,
kidney and pancreas.
Within five years you have the
same chance of having a stroke
as a non-smoker.
Within 10 years, your risk of dying
from lung cancer is cut in half.
Within 15 years, your risk of dying
from a heart attack is equal to
a person who never smoked.
What’s more, any one at any age can
experience a health benefit when they
give up cigarettes and other tobacco
Every minute, hour, month, year counts
KEEP YOUR TEETH IN
Non-smokers have a reduced risk
of many oral health issues such
as oral cancers (about 75 per cent
of which are related to smoking),
periodontal disease, mouth sores,
gum disease and tooth loss.
Being tobacco free also makes
it much easier to keep your teeth
whiter and your breath fresher.