Giving up smoking is hard. Instead of focusing on the long term,
Southeast Georgia Health System encourages smokers to focus on day one. And November 18 is a good day
to choose. That’s when the American Cancer Society sponsors the
Great American Smokeout® (GASO) and challenge smokers to give up cigarettes
for 24 hours.
About 34 million American adults still smoke tobacco products even though
smoking remains the single most preventable cause of death and illness
globally. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking causes an
estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. Each year,
on the third Thursday of November, the Great American Smokeout® challenges
individuals to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives by educating them about
the many free tools they can use to help them quit smoking.
Despite what some may say, it is never too late to stop smoking. As soon
as a person quits smoking, their body begins to recover and within days
they will begin to experience health improvements. Health benefits include:
- Two weeks to 3 months after quitting: heart attack risk begins to drop
and lung function improves.
- One to 9 months after quitting: coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
- One year after quitting: heart attack risk drops sharply.
- Two to 5 years after quitting: stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker.
- Five years after quitting: the risk of mouth, throat and voice box (larynx)
is reduced by half.
- Ten years after quitting: the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half
that of a current smoker, and the risk of kidney, esophagus and bladder
- Fifteen years after quitting: the risk of coronary heart disease returns
to that of a non-smoker.
Individuals who wish to quit smoking can increase their chances of success
with a good plan and a support system. The American Cancer Society recommends
the following steps for those who hope to stop smoking:
- Make a plan. Learn about options to curb cravings and have a support system
ready to help you through challenging times. If you're trying to help
someone else quit, research ways to ensure you're doing it in a supportive way.
- Remove anything smoking-related. GASO is the perfect day to remove all
smoking-related items from your home, car, and office, including cigarettes,
vapor pens, and smoking accessories. Instead, stock up on substitutes
like gum and crunchy snacks.
- Reflect on past attempts at quitting. If you've tried to quit before,
GASO is an excellent time to reflect on why those attempts didn't
work and create a plan for a more successful effort.
If you would like to stop using tobacco products and kick the habit, many
programs and products can assist you. Getting help through counseling
and medications doubles or even triples your chances of quitting successfully.
For more information and community resources to help people quit smoking,
tobacco cessation resource guide.