Are you thinking about quitting smoking but not sure you're ready to take the plunge? Maybe the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout is for you. It's an opportunity to join with literally millions of other smokers in saying "no thanks" to cigarettes for 24 hours. Studies have shown that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. One-third of cancer deaths could be prevented if people avoided tobacco products. Smokers who quit can add up to eight years (and up to eight more birthdays) onto their lives.
As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society marks the 35th Great American Smokeout on Thursday by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life - one that can lead to reducing cancer risk and creating more birthdays.
For more than half a century the American Cancer Society has been leading the fight against tobacco. In 1954, American Cancer Society researchers were among the first to link cigarette smoking to early death from lung cancer. The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for and held its first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day. One million people quit smoking for a day at the 1976 event in California. The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to quit smoking for good.
In 2010, the Society continues to lead the charge to help people stay well by providing tools to help smokers quit. They know that quitting smoking is one of the most important steps in creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Most people know that using tobacco can cause lung cancer, but few know it's also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, and is linked to a number of other health problems, from heart disease to stroke.
For smokers, there has never been a better time to quit. Due to advocacy and public policy, a pack of cigarettes now costs, on average nationwide, $5.51. More and more communities are covered by smoke-free laws. New regulations place tough new restrictions on the marketing and sale of tobacco products to children and adults.
When you're ready to quit tobacco, the American Cancer Society is here to help. The rules are simple: You just quit smoking for the 24 hours of the Smokeout. Even if you don't go on to quit permanently, you will have learned that you can quit for a day and that many others around you are taking the step, too.
When smokers quit - what are the benefits over time?
Twenty minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
Twelve hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
Two weeks to three months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
One to nine months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
One year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
Five years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker five to 15 years after quitting.
Ten years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a person who continues smoking. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases, too.
Fifteen years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker's.
Mark your calendar for the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout on Thursday - the day to make a plan to quit smoking for good. Visit cancer.org/smokeout to pick a quit day, prepare for quitting, and get support after you've quit. Download special tools designed to help support you on your journey and to fight cravings. Join the Choose You movement at ChooseYou.com and make a commitment to put your health first and quit for good.
By quitting smoking, you can take one of the most important steps toward staying well and helping create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. We're in your corner around the clock at (800) 227-2345 or at cancer.org.
Ted Bodensteiner is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Webster County Coordinating Committee and Corporate Sponsorship chairperson for the Relay For Life.