Every year on the third Thursday in November the American Cancer Society hosts the Great American Smokeout to encourage people to stop smoking together. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one in every six Americans smoke cigarettes. There are about 40 million smokers in the United States. This does not take into account people who smoke pipes, cigars, or hookah all of which carry similar health risks to smoking cigarettes.
What are the health risks of smoking? Smoking cigarettes increases your chances of heart disease, stroke, emphysema, type-2 diabetes, and fertility issues. Smoking also increases your risk of cancer including: lung, oral, nasal, throat, esophageal, laryngeal, bladder, kidney, pancreatic, ovarian, cervical, colorectal, liver, and stomach. According to the Surgeon General, nearly 500,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking every year. If you smoke you may be putting your friends and family at risk, too. Second hand smoke accounts for over 40,000 deaths each year.
If the health risks aren’t enough, smoking can also decrease your quality of life in other ways. First, smoking is expensive. If you smoke a pack a day and a pack of cigarettes costs $5, you will spend $1,825 on cigarettes a year. Smoking also dulls your sense of taste and smell, making food less enjoyable. The smell of cigarette smoke can linger on your breath and clothes. Smoking can stain your teeth and cause wrinkles. Smoke breaks can also take up a lot of your time since you have to step outside or excuse yourself at work or social events.
Quitting smoking has both immediate and long-term benefits. Within the first 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 9 months, you will start to breathe with less difficulty. In 10 years, you risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half. Learn more about the benefits of quitting at Smokefree.gov.
Are you convinced yet? If so, join all the people participating in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout, and stop now smoking now. You can do it! Here are some tips to help you quit smoking:
Throw away all your cigarettes and lighters.
- Don’t just hide them or put them away.
- Avoid places where cigarettes may be easily accessible such as bars or social events with other smokers.
Tell your friends and family you are trying to quit so they can support you.
- Ask a specific person to be your “sponsor” whom you can call when you have an intense craving to smoke.
- You may even wish to join a support group or connect with other people online who are trying to quit.
Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapies.
- Did you know there are 7 FDA approved medications for smoking cessation? These include patches, inhalers, gum, and other medications.
Know your triggers and have a plan.
- Figure it out. What makes you want to smoke stress, coffee, alcohol, or the smell of smoke?
- Once you know your triggers, avoid them if possible. If not, have an alternate plan such as chewing gum, calling a friend, or listing your reasons for quitting.
Most importantly, if you have a setback, don’t be too hard on yourself. Quitting smoking is a process not a single event. Use the Great American Smokeout as a way to start the journey. With persistence and patience, you will be able to kick the habit for good!
Learn More About Quitting Smoking
Call 1-800-QUIT NOW to connect with your state’s helpline.