Great American SmokeOut

Today is the 36th Great American SmokeOut, and the American Cancer Society is encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. According to an American Cancer Society report, smokers who quit can expect to live up to 10 years longer than those who continue to smoke.

“Quitting is hard, but smokers can increase their chances of success with help,” said Martha Trout, Health Initiatives director for the American Cancer Society Great Lakes Division. “The Society has many online tips and tools to help smokers beat the urge to smoke such as a crave button, a cigarette cost calculator, and a quit clock to help smokers plan towards kicking the habit for good.”

Research shows that much of the risk of premature death from smoking could be prevented by quitting. Smokers who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. Smokers who quit reduce their risk of lung cancer – 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. Quitting also lowers the risk for other major diseases including heart disease and stroke.

The American Cancer Society held its first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for one day. One million people quit smoking for that day at the event in California. The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to quit smoking for good.


Important facts about tobacco use:

o Tobacco use remains the world’s most preventable cause of death.

o Cigarette smoking accounts for about 443,000 premature deaths – including 49,400 in nonsmokers.

o Thirty percent of cancer deaths, including 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, can be attributed to smoking.

o Smoking accounts for more than $193 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses annually.

You Can Do It — Five Helpful Strategies

1. Prepare for life as a nonsmoker. Remove all cigarette-related materials such as ashtrays, lighters, matches, cigarettes and cigarette butts, etc. from your office and your home. This will help you avoid temptation.

2. Urges last a few minutes at most, so practice the four Ds:

a. DEEP breaths.

b. DO something else to get your mind off the craving. Call a friend, go for a walk, or chew on a carrot stick.

c. DRINK lots of water throughout the day, especially during a craving.

d. DELAY reaching for a cigarette – the urge will pass!

3. Change your routines. For example, if you light up with a cup of coffee, switch to tea, soda or juice. If you smoke while you watch the evening news, read a newspaper instead.

4. Recognize that urges are the worst within the first two weeks of your life as a nonsmoker. After that, your chances of smoking again will most likely occur in situations associated with smoking such as after dinner or during car rides. While it may difficult and nearly impossible to avoid some of these situations, try to avoid as many of them as you can. If you can’t, tell people you’ve just quit or that you’re a nonsmoker.


Use all the resources available to you. Nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges are a few over-the-counter options while nicotine nasal spray and inhaler and other smoking cessation medications are available via a doctor’s prescription. Additionally, toll-free help lines, such as the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345, and online programs ( are at your disposal for information and support. Your employer and/or medical insurance plan may also offer a cessation program – check with your company’s human resources and benefits department.

Remember that most smokers will have to try several methods before they succeed in quitting, so don’t be discouraged and keep trying until you find what works for you. When you are ready to quit, the American Cancer Society can help. Call 1-800-227-2345 or visit for more information.


When smokers quit – What are the benefits over time? The American Cancer Society says:

20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease

1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.

5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.

10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a person who continues smoking. The risk of other cancers decreases too.

15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s.


Helping A Smoker Quit: American Cancer Society Do’s and Don’ts:

General Hints for Friends and Family

Do respect that the quitter is in charge. This is their lifestyle change and their challenge, not yours.

Do ask the person whether he or she wants you to call or visit regularly to see how he or she is doing. Let the person know that it’s okay to call you whenever he or she needs to hear encouraging words.

Do help the quitter get what she or he needs, such as hard candy to suck on, straws to chew on, fresh veggies cut up and kept cold in the refrigerator, etc.

Do spend time doing things with the quitter to keep his or her mind off smoking – go to the movies or take a walk to get past a craving (what many call a “nicotine fit”).

Do help the quitter with a few chores, some child care, cooking – whatever will help lighten the stress of quitting.

Do celebrate along the way. Quitting smoking is a BIG DEAL!

Don’t take the quitter’s grumpiness personally during his or her nicotine withdrawal. The symptoms will pass in about two weeks.

Don’t offer advice. Just ask how you can help with the plan or program they are using.


Don’t be too hard on them! If Your Smoker Relapses…

Research shows that most people try to quit smoking five to seven times before they are successful. Don’t give up your efforts to encourage and support your loved one. If the person you care about fails to quit:

Do praise him or her for trying to quit, and for whatever length of time (days, weeks, or months) of not smoking.

Do encourage him or her to try again. Don’t say, “If you try again…” Say, “When you try again…” Studies show that most people who don’t succeed in quitting are ready to try again in the near future.

Do encourage him or her to learn from the attempt. Things a person learns from a failed attempt to quit may help him or her be successful in a future attempt.


If You Are a Smoker…

Do smoke outside and always away from the quitter.

Do keep your cigarettes and matches out of sight. They might be triggers to smoke.

Don’t ever offer the quitter a smoke, even in jest!

Do make an effort to quit. It’s better for your health and might be easier to do with someone else that is trying to quit!

Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 to find out what resources might be available to you for your quit attempt.

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