Despite mountains of evidence showing that smoking cigarettes is incredibly dangerous, millions of people still partake in this habit. Although recognized as the leading cause of preventable death and disease, 12 in 100 people still smoke regularly. As a result, about 16 million people currently live with smoking-related illnesses or disabilities.

Interestingly, though, data reveals that men are much more likely to smoke than women. According to smoking surveys, while 13% of the entire American male population smokes, only 10% of females do. This may seem like a small difference, except that men are naturally also more at risk for several gender-specific health conditions brought on by smoking. As such, it’s important for men to understand these risks and how to curb this harmful habit for good.

Unique ways that smoking impacts men

Sexual dysfunction

Studies show that men who smoke are twice as prone to erectile dysfunction (ED) than their non-smoking peers. In fact, ED caused by smoking is believed to be progressive in that it worsens the longer and more intensely you smoke. This is because smoking impairs blood circulation. As it happens, this is crucial for an erection, which is why diseases like hypertension can result in ED. Aside from this, regular smoking can result in infertility. According to Truth Initiatives, this is because the toxins in cigarettes can damage sperm motility and output. As a result, smokers have a harder time conceiving, especially if both partners smoke.

Dental disorders

Men are disproportionately more at risk of developing periodontal diseases. This is due to many factors inherent in males, like genetics and behaviors. Most notably, men were less likely to practice proper oral habits, including booking regular dental visits. Thus, dental diseases are not proactively avoided, and any existing issue only worsens. Another habit that men do that worsens dental health is smoking. Primarily, because of the heated element in cigarettes, tar builds up on the teeth. This can cause the protective enamel to weaken and chip. Over time, this can cause staining, teeth loosening, and even rot.

Heightened depressive ideation

While many may not want to talk about it, more and more men are experiencing depressive symptoms. More women are diagnosed with depression, but more men are prone to act on harmful ideation. This is chalked up to aspects like hormones and societal pressures. Sadly, smoking can cause anxiety because of the way its chemicals impact neuroreceptors. At the same time, because smoking can cause sleep disturbances, it can cause further damage to moods.

How to quit smoking for good

Switch to tobacco-free replacements

Going cold turkey often leads to a relapse since the sudden deprivation of cigarettes shocks the body. This causes withdrawal symptoms like irritability, fatigue, and body pains. To prevent this, slowly wean yourself off tobacco cigarettes using nicotine replacements. Some of the most common alternatives are smokeless oral options, with nicotine pouches being among the most popular replacements today. Available in leading brands like ZYN, these pouches are small and discreet, making them easy to use on the go. They offer controlled doses of nicotine in various strengths, ranging from 3mg to 15mg, along with pleasing flavors like citrus and coffee. This ensures you have a pleasant cessation journey sans withdrawal. Alternatively, if you still prefer something more closely related to cigarettes, you could opt for vapes. Also called e-cigarettes, these come in brands like Elfbar and also come in different flavors and strengths. Many people enjoy vapes because of their flavored juices, which, when heated, turn into a vapor. Some studies allege these can help curb cigarette cravings, but they can also pose their own health risks if used too often.

Try targeted cessation counseling

For most smokers, the habit is brought on by dependencies and associations. In some cases, smokers may not even really enjoy the taste of tobacco but merely do so out of habit. In targeted cessation counseling, these motivations are discussed with a trained professional and then addressed accordingly. For example, smokers may find that undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help them understand and unlearn their damaging behaviors. In the case of smoking, the counselor will also teach new coping mechanisms that can take the role of cigarettes. For example, if the counselor deems that you smoke out of stress, they may suggest you try meditation instead. Over time, this can help loosen the hold that the habit has on you until you no longer need it. Depending on your preference, these counseling sessions can be done one-on-one or in a group. To make it even more accessible, some healthcare insurance covers this, and there are also free platforms, like the SmokeFree app.