Free Yourself from Smoking on November 15
If you or someone you know is a smoker, the idea of quitting (or helping someone else to quit) has probably crossed your mind. Almost 70% of smokers want to stop smoking, and about 52% of them try to stop each year. The Great American Smokeout (GASO), sponsored by the American Cancer Society, takes place every year on the third Thursday of November. It was established to encourage smokers to not smoke on that day and to make plans to quit smoking for good.
Why not join others around the country and free yourself from smoking—starting today?
What Health and Economic Issues Are Associated With Smoking?
Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability, and premature death in the United States. The numbers are sobering:
- Cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke result in more than 443,000 deaths a year.
- For every person who dies from smoking, another 20 people are living with a smoking-related disease.
- Smoking costs the United States about $96 billion each year in medical expenses and $97 billion in lost productivity due to premature death.
Despite these facts, 43.8 million Americans still smoke. For anyone who has an addiction to tobacco, you know how daunting the task of quitting may seem. But did you know that quitting at any time has benefits, no matter how long you’ve smoked? Why not join thousands of soon-to-be former smokers and quit on November 15—the date of the Great American Smokeout!
When Will You See Improvements to Your Health?
If you quit smoking now, the benefits will start almost immediately:
- 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate drops.
- 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your heart attack risk begins to drop and your lung function begins to improve.
- 3 weeks after quitting: Your physical symptoms of nicotine addiction end.
- 1 to 9 months after quitting: Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
- 1 year after quitting: Your risk for heart attack drops sharply.
It can take longer for other important benefits to occur:
- 2 to 5 years after quitting: Your chance for stroke could fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s.
- Within 5 years of quitting: Your chance for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
- 10 years after quitting: Your risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half.
If you are a woman, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of pregnancy complications, premature delivery, low birth weight infants, stillbirth, and sudden infant death syndrome. Also, the lungs of babies and children who breathe secondhand smoke don’t work as well as well as those who are not exposed to smoke. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for the health of your baby. It also helps protect others from exposure to secondhand smoke.
Why Is It Hard to Quit Smoking?
That’s an easy answer. It’s nicotine, a chemical that is in all tobacco products. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. More people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other chemical.
Because nicotine is so addictive, people can find it hard to quit smoking. They may feel more irritable or anxious; have trouble concentrating; and have an increased appetite when they try to stop. These are some of the symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine. Because these symptoms are uncomfortable, many people begin smoking again. The 2008 Clinical Practice Guideline Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence concluded that "Tobacco dependence is a chronic disease that often requires repeated interventions and multiple attempts to quit."
Most smokers try to quit several times before succeeding. But many, many people succeed. In fact, the number of former U.S. smokers has exceeded the number of current smokers since 2002. Smokers can learn from previous quit attempts and be better prepared to overcome the specific challenges (sometimes called triggers) that cause them to start smoking again. With continued encouragement and support, many people keep trying until they succeed in stopping smoking for good.
What Is the Best Way to Stop Smoking?
There are many ways to quit smoking, but no single way works for everyone. You need to keep trying until you find a specific treatment or combination of treatments that best suits your individual needs and gives you the best chance of quitting permanently. Most importantly, don’t give up trying to quit. Seek out people who will offer you support and encouragement.
Learn From Other Former Smokers
Hearing from other people who have successfully stopped smoking may help you take that first step toward quitting. Take a look at this video from CDC’s campaign, Tips From Former Smokers, which shows how three former smokers—Beatrice, Wilma, and James—quit smoking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d6iS44aHy4s.
Watch more videos from former smokers at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/videos/.
Resources to Help You Quit
There are many proven services and treatments can ease withdrawal symptoms and help you quit. Although many people quit without medication, FDA-approved medications, combined with counseling, can greatly increase the likelihood of quitting successfully. Combining medication and counseling is more effective than either medication or counseling alone.
For support to help you quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). You can get free support and advice from experienced counselors, a personalized quit plan, self-help materials, the latest information about cessation medications, and more.
Online services and resources are also available through the following Web sites:
- www.smokefree.gov provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.
- women.smokefree.gov provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of women trying to quit smoking.
- Quit Tobacco: Make Everyone Proud is a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored Web site for military personnel and their families.
- American Cancer Society—The Great American Smokeout is the American Cancer Society’s Web site that provides many resources to help you stop smoking.
- For assistance in Español: http://espanol.smokefree.gov/
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