The annual Great American Smokeout is held every third Thursday in November (Lung Cancer Awareness Month). This year’s event will be on November 16 and observed in the U.S. nationwide.
The idea behind the event started in the 1970s with a few small-scale smoke cessation events. In 1977, it turned into a nationwide annual event spearheaded by the American Cancer Society.
The impact of this event has been historic. Millions of smokers give up cigarettes on this day by learning new tools and strategies to help them quit and improve their health. The public has also benefited from new smoke-free laws limiting public smoking and reducing secondhand smoke.
Since the first smokeout efforts began, adult smoking has decreased from 42% to 17%.
However, today 1 in 5 adults continue to smoke cigarettes, and the health effects are often detrimental. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. Smoking can also cause other cancers in the body. Other lung diseases from smoking include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. The risk of heart attack is 70% higher in smokers.
If you are thinking about getting screened, talk to your doctor. If lung cancer screening is right for you, your doctor can refer you to a high-quality treatment facility. The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is to not smoke and to avoid secondhand smoke. Lung cancer screening is not a substitute for quitting smoking.
The benefits of tobacco cessation are priceless:
- Your health. Within the first 24 hours, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels normalize; carbon monoxide levels in blood cells reduce; and the risk of heart attack begins to reduce. Within 48 hours, nerve endings for smell and taste begin to regrow. Within 3 days, nicotine levels deplete in the body. After two to three weeks, lung capacity and circulation will begin to improve and continue as regeneration takes place.
- Your money. Smoking is a very expensive habit, with the average pack in the U.S. costing $6.16. Some states have a high tax imposed on cigarettes, such as NY, resulting in a $10.44/pack price tag. Even at the lower price of $6.16, quitting can mean saving well over $2,000 a year.
- Your social life. It is getting harder to find public places that allow smoking, and less adults smoke. After quitting, you may quickly find yourself less isolated and supported by like-minded health-conscious friends.
The Great American Smokeout is a great way to challenge yourself, or someone important to you, to quit smoking for a day! Even if the day is just used to make a plan to quit, having a small goal and target day can create momentum for further success. Let this event be your starting point to becoming smoke-free!