Each year, the Great American Smokeout takes place on the third Thursday of November, sponsored by The American Cancer Society. This year’s Smokeout is on November 20, 2014!
The first Great American Smokeout took place at Union Square in San Francisco, California on November 16, 1977 and it has successfully continued for 39 years and counting.
The goal is to encourage tobacco users to think about kicking their habit—whether it’s cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or other forms of tobacco—for 24 hours. Hopefully by trying to quit for 24 hours, smokers will be inspired to make the decision to stop forever.
This event not only supports the decision to make a life-long commitment to quit smoking but also tries to raise public awareness of the harm and danger smoking can cause.
What are some of the dangers of smoking?
We all know that smoking is harmful to the lungs and can cause lung cancer, but the dangerous effects of smoking don’t stop there.
Smoking can cause many other types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and stomach.
Smoking can also cause many other health-related issues like heart disease and stroke.
Are there benefits to quitting even if you’ve been a long-time smoker?
Yes. Regardless of whether you are a long time smoker, a new smoker, or anywhere in between, the benefits of quitting begin almost immediately. Here’s a timeline outlining the immediate and future benefits of quitting tobacco.
- Within 20 minutes after your last tobacco use, heart rate and blood pressure drop
- Within 12 hours, levels of carbon monoxide in the blood return to normal
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, circulation and lung function improves
- 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease and your cilia (tiny hairs lining the lungs to keep them clean) start to regain normal function
- 1 year after quitting, your excess risk of coronary artery disease is reduced to half of that of a current smoker
- 5 years after quitting, your cervical cancer risk is equal to that of a nonsmoker (for women), your stroke risk is equal to that of a nonsmoker, and your risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half
- 10 years after quitting, your risk of dying from lung cancer is reduced to half of that of a current smoker, and your risk of larynx and pancreatic cancers decrease
- 15 years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is equal to that of a nonsmoker
Are there medications that can help with quitting smoking?
Yes—smoking cessation products (used to help you quit smoking) can help you with your goal of becoming tobacco free. There are both over-the-counter (non-prescription) and prescription medications available.
You’ve probably heard of nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges, all of which are available in your local pharmacy without a prescription.
Some other options that do require prescription include
For more information and other prescriptions that might help, see the American Cancer Society’s overview here.
What are some other ways to get help with quitting smoking?
There are many non-medication options for smoking cessation.
Behavioral therapy, including clinical intervention and individual or group counseling works for many people. You can do this face-to-face or even online.
If you prefer to quit on your own, there are a lot of great resources out there. Check out some of these sites for more help:
- Quit for Life Program from The American Cancer Society
- Quit Smoking from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Quit Tobacco: Make Everyone Proud from The Department of Defense
- Stop Smoking from The American Lung Association
- Smoking Cessation 101 from the FDA
- 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the National Tobacco Quit line