Great American Smokeout is Thursday, Nov. 19

Thursday, Nov. 19, is the Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers are encouraged to quit for the day and make a plan to quit for good. That remains important in Kentucky, which has the highest rates of lung cancer and deaths from it, and where more than one in four adults smoke, the second highest rate in the nation.

Every third Thursday since 1976, the American Cancer Society has coordinated the Smokeout. It has helped change Americans’ attitudes about smoking, and probably saved millions of lives.

While national smoking rates have dropped dramatically, from about 42 percent of adults in 1965 to
about 18 percent, about 42 million adults still smoke cigarettes, and
tobacco remains a major killer, responsible for nearly one in five
deaths in the United States, and at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths, the ACS says. (For a statistical profile of U.S. smokers, from The Washington Post, click here.)

Today, smokers have more tools than
ever to help quit smoking, but it remains one of the strongest
addictions known. Smokers often have to make several quit attempts,
using any of several tools, some proven, some not, before they find
the method that works for them. Among those tools smokers can consider:
• Nicotine replacement therapy
• Telephone and online based
support and counseling
• Quit smoking programs and
support groups
• Prescription drugs
Studies show 70 percent of smokers want to
quit. Here’s a timeline of the benefits of quitting:
• 20 minutes: Your heart rate
and blood pressure drop.
• 12 hours: The carbon monoxide
level in your blood drops to normal.
• 2 weeks to 3 months:
circulation improves and lung function increases.
• 1 to 9 months: Coughing and
shortness of breath decrease; cilia start to regain normal function
in the lungs, increasing the ability to clean the lungs and reduce
• 1 year: The excess risk of
coronary heart disease is reduced by half
• 5 years: Risk of cancer of
the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Stroke
risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
• 10 years: The risk of dying
from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.
The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

• 15 years: The risk of
coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
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