Smokers wanting to kick the habit should take a red marker and make a big circle around Nov. 16 on the calendar. In the circle, write “quit smoking today” to remember the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.
In its 30th year, the American Cancer Society is encouraging smokers to go smoke-free for a day and consider giving it up for good.
In Illinois, approximately 22 percent of adults are smokers, about the same as the national average. According to the Society, more than 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit, but only five to 10 percent are successful on any given attempt.
“To increase your success rate of remaining smoke-free, it may be helpful to talk to a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, cessation specialist or establish a support system of friends and family,” said Dr. Arthur Hoffman, American Cancer Society medical ambassador and a leading smoking cessation expert at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Smokers need methods to resist the urge to smoke after they quit and how to use tools like relaxation techniques, nicotine replacement therapy, or other medications to help them make their quit attempt a long-term success.”
In fact, kicking the habit can have instant benefits to a person’s health. Twenty minutes after quitting, a person’s heart rate drops. Within days and weeks, lung function will begin to increase, making it easier for the organ to handle mucus, clean itself and reduce the risk of infection.
A year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s risk. Within five years of quitting, a former smoker will experience an improved sense of taste that can increase as much as 30 percent. Additionally, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s death rate after 10 years.
When someone quits smoking they are not only protecting their health, but they’re improving the health and safety of others by reducing exposure to deadly secondhand smoke. In June, the U.S. Surgeon General reported an estimated 126 million Americans are regularly exposed and no level of secondhand smoke is safe. Even brief exposure can cause immediate harm, especially to infants and children.
Since the Great American Smokeout began 30 years ago, lung cancer incidence and death rates have declined in men; per-capita cigarette consumption is at it lowest since World War II; 17 states have become smoke-free and 43 states have raised tobacco excise taxes in the past five years.