Smokers will think “NOT AGAIN!” when they hear about the Great American Smokeout planned for Thursday, November 17th.  This is the 36th annual smoke-free day sponsored by the American Cancer Society, who encourages tobacco smokers and chewers to quit for ONE day, and hopefully, forever.  The Smokeout draws attention to deaths and health damage caused by smoking.  It has also contributed to bans on smoking in workplaces and restaurants, increased taxes on cigarettes, limitations on cigarette promotions in the media, attempts to discourage teen smoking, and other countless actions to reduce tobacco use. 

There are approximately 46 million Americans that continue to smoke.  According to the CDC, 443,000 deaths result from smoking and second-hand smoke, $96 Billion in health care costs and $97 Billion in lost production occur annually.  Here are some facts from the U.S. Surgeon General and American Cancer Society that point out the benefits of quitting: 

  •        Your heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting.
  •        Your circulation improves and your lung function increases within 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting.
  •        The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal 12 hours after quitting.
  •        One to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease; normal function in the lungs is regained, which reduces the risk of infection.
  •        One year after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
  •        Five years after quitting, the stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
  •        Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. 
  •        The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.
  •        Fifteen years after quitting, risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s. 

It is a very hard habit to break, but consider the health benefits as listed above, not to mention creating a safer environment for those non-smokers who have to breathe secondhand smoke!  Approximately two out of three smokers want to quit, and 52.4% of current adult smokers tried to quit within the past year. Healthcare providers should routinely identify smokers and other tobacco users, advise them to quit, and assist those trying to quit .  Getting help (e.g., through counseling or medication) can double or triple the chances for quitting. 

Workplaces that make the choice to become smoke-free would see increased productivity, fewer sick days and lower insurance claims by employees.  Employers could reward their workers who stop smoking by paying a membership fee to a health club, treat them to an occasional free breakfast or lunch, or come up with other innovative ideas.  

People have the right to choose what to do with their body; however, when facts prove that smoking damages almost every organ in the human body and is linked to at least fifteen different cancers, that should be reason enough for tobacco users to consider stopping.  Besides that, think of all the money that could be saved!  So, Thursday, come on, we dare you!  You can do it for at least one day…then another….and another!