Great American Smokeout


November 15 is the Great American Smokeout, a date the American Cancer Society hopes motivates smokers to make a plan to quit or actually stop smoking on that day.  According to recent studies, the number of Americans smoking has remained unchanged from 2010 to 2011, progress stalled as compared to the smoking decline reported from 2005 to 2011. Among smokers, there has been a change in behavior. The number of adults who smoke more than 30 cigarettes in a day decreased from 13 percent in 2005 to 9 percent in 2011. However, the number of smokers who light up between one and nine times a day has increased to 22 percent during that same time.

Many credit the stall in number of smokers quitting or smoking less to a 35 percent to a reduction in funding of state programs which promote smoking cessation, smoke-free laws, increases in tobacco sales taxes, and media campaigns. Despite this, the American Cancer Society says tobacco use is “the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US.”

Motivating the 43.8 million Americans who smoke to take a day to really think about the damage smoking can cause and the immediate and long-term benefits of quitting could be the key needed to see a continued decline in the number of smokers lighting up. The Great American Smokeout may spark the conversation for many to stop smoking this year.

Benefits of Quitting

For some, thinking about smoking cessation is the equivalent of thinking about losing 100 pounds. The goal seems too large and unattainable to motivate change. In fact, the average smoker tries 5 to 7 stop attempts before being a successful quitter.  If we break up quitting smoking into smaller, more immediate benefits, smokers can get a sense of what they can do today to improve their health, and ultimately work towards being successful in the long-term.


If one quits smoking, then after: 

20 minutes - Heart rates drops to normal level.
12 hours - Carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. 
2 weeks to 3 months - Your risk of having a heart attack begins to drop.  Lung function begins to improve. 
9 months - Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. 
1 year - Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s. 
5 to 15 years - Your risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s. 
10 years - Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of getting bladder cancer is half that of a smoker’s.  Your risk of getting cervical cancer, cancer of the larynx, kidney, and pancreas decreases. 
15 years - Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

A Treatment Plan

There are several ways to approach a successful smoking cessation plan. First, talk with your doctor when you are ready to quit. Being ready is the first essential component to a viable plan. Second, realize you do not have to do it alone. There are medication therapies available to compliment your efforts to stop smoking. Your doctor will explain what will work best for you and how to incorporate those into your plan. Finally, don’t think about the end goal as unachievable. Begin with a day at a time and take notice of how you feel better in those first days and weeks. You can become a quitter.