The Great American Smokeout

Please take a moment to reflect on your own life and how, if at all, smoking has affected you. Do you have family members who have to take smoking breaks during family gatherings? Do you have friends who have to drive separately to events so that they can smoke? Do you pass people smoking on the sidewalk? Although over the years, people have become more educated on the ill effects smoking can have on a person, smoking is still the leading preventative killer in the U.S. Therefore, smoking is still a very large and serious problem. The American Cancer Society (ACS) designates the third Thursday of November, which is November 19th this year, to encourage smokers to join together, “Quit Like a Campion,” and quit smoking for good.

We all know smoking is “bad for you,” right? But what does this actually mean? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general.” Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, decreased tooth and gum health, decreased immune function, clouding of cataracts, decreased bone health, and cancer. Smoking is a cause of type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, having a stroke…the list goes on and on.

A study done by the American Cancer Society showed that of these 12 types of cancer, about half of the deaths from these types of cancer are due to cigarette smoking. These cancers that are proven to be caused by smoking include: liver, colon and rectum, lung, oral cavity and throat, esophagus, larynx (voice box), stomach, pancreas, bladder, kidney, cervix, and blood. Of these cancers, lung cancer killed 80% of its victims due to smoking. The CDC reports that “If no one smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.” Not only is this a very significant number, but the biggest concept to grasp here is that smoking and all the risks it entails is preventable. We can change the number of people who die from all of these types of cancers because of smoking.

The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to ban together on November 19th to quit smoking—together.  Smokers can come together to feel as though they do not have to do this alone, but that others understand where they are coming from and are also working towards a common goal.  With the cessation of smoking being such a challenge, we need to make sure our loved ones and friends know that we are in their corner and that we fully support them and their goal. So this date is not only for smokers to use as their start date, but also a date for us to cheer them on to their smoke free life. This is just an arbitrary date. If you feel this date is too soon for you to make the change that is okay and you can designate your own start date to a new life. Research has shown that if you pick a date within the next 30 days and designate that as your date to live a smoke free life, you are more likely to be successful and stick to your word, as opposed to the “yes, I know I need to stop smoking” empty promise we have all heard too often.

Here are some tips the ACS gives to quit smoking:

  • Pick your quit day and mark it on your calendar
  • Write a list of all the reasons why you want to quit
  • Inform family and friends of your quit day (they can help hold you accountable)
  • Remove all tobacco, cigarettes, and ashtrays in home, car, workplace, etc.
  • Create your plan of action. Will you quit cold turkey, use nicotine replacement therapy, sign up for a cessation class?
  • Establish a support system. Perhaps this means using the buddy system and quitting with a friend, finding encouragement in someone who has already quit, using loved ones as additional motivation to take control of your health, or attending a group class.
  • Practice saying “No thank you. I do not smoke.”
  • Change your routine so you do not feel as though you need to smoke in certain situations, as was previously your routine
  • Stay active and use exercise as a hobby/stress reliever
  • Try the Quit for Life Mobile App

It is never too late to stop smoking. The main thing is that each smoker individually has to make the decision that they want to quit and actively work towards this goal. If an outside source, such as a family member or loved one is trying to tell you that you need to stop smoking and you try for their sake, you most likely will not be successful. This needs to be a decision that you choose to make for yourself and you need to be willing to put forth the effort to do so. It is not going to be easy. But you can do it. As encouragement, please click on this link to view the positive way your body recovers once you stop smoking: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-046237.pdf. Your body will experience positive effects from the cessation of smoking almost immediately. Quitting for even one day is a great start towards a healthier you. Please realize that smoking can have serious risks, but together we can “Quit Like Champions.”

By Natalie Radloff

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