Anyone who has ever smoked knows how difficult it is to stop. Perhaps that’s why one in five American adults – 43.6-million people – still smoke cigarettes. And nearly 15-million people smoke tobacco in cigars or pipes.
As tough as it is to quit, these statistics should provide ample motivation:
- Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. About 87% of lung cancer deaths in men, and 70% in women, are thought to result from smoking.
- Smoking is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in America. Another 8.6-million people live with serious illnesses caused by smoking.
What is the Great American Smokeout?
The Great American Smokeout dates back to 1976. Ever since, on the third Thursday of November each year, the American Cancer Society encourages smokers nationwide to: use the date to make a plan to quit; not smoke for at least that one day; or plan in advance and then quit smoking – for good – starting on that day. This year’s Great American Smokeout takes place on Nov. 20.
To help increase their odds of success, smokers should visit: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/greatamericansmokeout/index
Benefits of Quitting
While it’s unquestionably extremely tough to stop smoking, it’s equally true that the benefits are well worth it.
No matter how old you are, or the number of years that you’ve smoked, quitting can help you live a longer, healthier life. People who stop smoking before age 50, for example, cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years by half, compared with those who continue to smoke. Ex-smokers also enjoy a higher quality of life: they have fewer illnesses like colds and the flu; lower rates of bronchitis and pneumonia; and generally feel healthier than people who still smoke.
Consider this chronological breakdown of benefits:
20 minutes after quitting
Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
12 hours after quitting
The carbon monoxide level in your blood returns 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 start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to manage 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 someone still smoking.
Five years after quitting
Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can be equal to that of a non-smoker after two to five years.
10 years after quitting
The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who continues smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases.
15 years after quitting
The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
These are just a few of the many benefits of quitting forever. Quitting smoking also lowers the risk of diabetes, improves blood-vessel functioning, as well as functioning of the heart and lungs. Although quitting while you’re younger most reduces your health risks, quitting at any age is a victory that brings with it improved health.