The Great American Smokeout began in 1970 when Arthur P. Mullaney asked the people of Randolph, Massachusetts, to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would spend on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.
Four years later, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, lead the state’s first Don’t Smoke Day. The idea caught on. The California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day on November 18, 1976.
Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way the public views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free – this protects non-smokers and supports smokers who want to quit. Thanks to the American Cancer Society for the great information on how to quit and tips for supporting those who want to quit smoking.
How many Americans still smoke?
About 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42% in 1965 to 15.1% in 2015), cigar, pipe, and hookah – other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco – are very much on the rise. Smoking kills people – there’s no “safe” way to smoke tobacco.
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age. Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling or medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully.
Supporting people who want to quit smoking
Do respect that the quitter is in charge. This is their lifestyle change and their challenge, not yours.
Do ask the person whether they want you to ask regularly how they’re doing. Ask how they’re feeling – not just whether they’ve stayed quit.
Do let the person know that it’s OK to talk to you whenever they need to hear encouraging words.
Do help the quitter get what they need, such as hard candy to suck on, straws to chew on, and fresh veggies cut up and kept in the refrigerator.
Do try to see it from the smoker’s point of view – a smoker’s habit may feel like an old friend that’s always been there when times were tough. It’s hard to give that up.
Don’t doubt the smoker’s ability to quit. Your faith in them reminds them they can do it.
Don’t judge, nag, preach, tease, or scold. This may make the smoker feel worse about him or herself. You don’t want your loved one to turn to a cigarette to soothe hurt feelings.
Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:
20 minutes after quitting
Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
(Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification Hypertension. 2003;41(1):183-187.)
12 hours after quitting
The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
(US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202)
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting
Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
(US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 193, 194, 196, 285, 323)
1 to 9 months after quitting
Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
(US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)
1 year after quitting
The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
(US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010, p. 359)
5 years after quitting
Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.
(US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010 and World Health Organization. Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p. 341.)
These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps your heart and lungs.
Dean and Draper
We invite you to participate in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 16, 2017. Non-smokers please check out the “Supporting people who want to quit” section of this blog. Smokers, this is just a one day commitment. You can do it. Of course, the theory is that one day will lead to another day and a day after that of being smoke free. We wish you great success!
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