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Today's article was written by Family Life intern Kyle Dickey, a senior at the University of Illinois studying interdisciplinary health sciences.

Tobacco has been found to be the greatest preventable cause of illness and premature death in the U.S. There is a laundry list of dangers and health issues that are directly linked to tobacco, and at least 70 of the 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke are known to cause cancer.

Smokeless tobacco has been found to have at least 30 chemicals known to cause cancer and is not a safe alternative. Smokers also put those around them at risk of second-hand smoke and in danger of some of those same health consequences.

Tobacco contains a chemical called nicotine that is highly addictive, and this is the reason it is so hard to stop using it once you start. This is why it is best not to pick up the habit, because you may not be able to kick it.

It is never too late to quit smoking or using chewing tobacco. Many think that because they have already gotten an illness or even cancer from tobacco that it is too late for them, and there's no point in stopping now. This is false, as quitting can still alleviate additional negative effects on the body.

As far as options go, there are many treatments available to help you stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco. Some can do it on their own, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that those who try to quit are much more successful with the assistance and support of their physician.

There are many treatments that have shown to effectively lower nicotine withdrawal symptoms, making it a little easier and more manageable, leading to an increased chance of overcoming addiction. This is why it is important to keep your physician involved, as they can assist you with the proper plan, medication, support and information you need to be able to successfully kick tobacco.

The benefits to quitting tobacco are endless, ranging from a lower risk for illnesses and improved overall health to better mental health, more energy, better recovery, and an overall improvement in longevity and quality of life.

To read more family-life-related topics, visit our blog, 'Family Files,' at go.illinois.edu/familyfiles. For more information on family-life-related topics and programs, go online to web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv or contact Chelsey Byers Gerstenecker at 217-333-7672 or clbyers@illinois.edu.