Although the health risks associated with smoking are irrefutable, many people have difficulty butting out. After all, nicotine is a powerful drug, and when smokers quit, they can experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from anger and irritability to headaches and insomnia.

The good news is, many people successfully kick the habit, and you can, too. Whether you're going cold turkey, opting for nicotine replacement, or trying another smoking-cessation method, refer to this list to remind yourself of all the benefits that come with smoke-free living.

Cleaner lungs:

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and up to 90 percent of lung-cancer cases are caused by smoking. Smoking is also responsible for 80 to 90 percent of COPD deaths. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a "safe cigarette": Smoking cigarettes that have a lower yield of tar does not substantially reduce the risk of developing lung cancer.


Fewer wrinkles:

Those nasty little vertical lines around a smoker's mouth, caused by the sucking motion used when inhaling, become more obvious as time goes by. Smoking also narrows the blood vessels in skin's outermost layers, which impairs blood flow to the skin, depleting it of oxygen and important nutrients. And smoking may damage collagen and elastin, the fibers that give skin its strength and elasticity.


The smell of success:

Smokers may not notice the distasteful scent that clings to their clothes, skin, and breath, but other people notice it. Many former smokers comment on how bad cigarette smoke now smells and wonder how they ever endured it. After kicking the habit, newly minted non-smokers can enjoy sweeter breath and fresher-scented clothing.


Lower breast-cancer risk:

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that active smoking may play a much larger role in increasing breast cancer risk than previously thought. The prevalence of breast cancer among current smokers was 30 percent higher than that of women who had never smoked, regardless of whether the non-smokers had been exposed to secondhand or passive smoke. Quitting smoking now can signigicantly lower your risk.


More money:

In most U.S. states, cigarettes cost about $5 per pack. For a pack-a-day smoker, that adds up to $150 a month, or $1,800 a year. That chunk of money could be better spent on a new wardrobe, home renovation, or an exotic vacation.


Protection of others:

The Surgeon General states that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even short periods can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart-rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack.


Sight savings:

Age-related macular degeneration is a severe and progressive condition that results in loss of central vision. Smokers are four times more likely to become blind because of age-related macular degeneration than those who have never smoked. Research has shown that quitting can lower your risk.


Role-model status:

Kids may hear their parents declare that smoking is a bad habit, but when they see Mom and Dad light up, children may be more likely to follow in their parents' footsteps.


Mental sharpness:

As people age, the rate of mental decline is up to five times faster in smokers than in non-smokers, according to a study published in the journal Neurology. More than 9,000 men and women over the age of 65 took standardized tests used to detect mental impairment when they entered the study, and again two years later. Higher rates of mental decline were found in men and women, and in persons with or without a family history of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.


Increased overall health:

Among the numerous benefits of quitting smoking are reduced risk of heart disease or stroke, lower blood pressure, less chance of asthma attacks, and lower risk of developing emphysema or bronchitis. Men who smoke may suffer from impotence and produce less sperm. Women who smoke take longer to conceive and are more likely to have a miscarriage or stillbirth. Stopping smoking can improve their chances.