No matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, quitting will help you live longer. That’s a fact! People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke. Ex-smokers enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses, better self-reported health, and reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia.

So we thought you might need a little motivation or “reason” to quit. Below are 20 outstanding reasons why you might want to quit in 2008.

1. Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. Benefits apply to people with and without smoking-related disease.

2. Former smokers live longer than people who keep smoking.

3. Quitting smoking decreases the risk of lung cancer, other cancers, heart attack, stroke, and chronic lung disease.

4. Women who stop smoking before pregnancy or during the first 3 to 4 months of pregnancy reduce their risk of having a low birth-weight baby to that of women who never smoked.

5. The health benefits of quitting smoking are far greater than any risks from the small weight gain (usually less than 10 pounds) or any emotional or psychological problems that may follow quitting.

6.  20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops.

7.  12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

8.  2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

9.  1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

10. 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.

11. 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.

12. 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.

13. 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Immediate Rewards of Quitting

Kicking the tobacco habit offers some benefits that you’ll notice right away and some that will develop over time. These rewards can improve your day-to-day life a great deal.

14. Your breath smells better

15. Stained teeth get whiter

16. Bad smelling clothes and hair go away

17. Your yellow fingers and fingernails disappear

18. Food tastes better

19. Your sense of smell returns to normal

20. Everyday activities no longer leave you out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).

Now what seems like more of an attractive option? Continuing to smoke? Finding places to smoke? spending your hard earned dollars on a pack of smokes? Coughing, hacking and smelling like ciggs? It would seem to be an easy choice.