Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great American Smokeout

Today is the Great American Smokeout—a time for smokers to quit, even if just for a day, but hopefully to make a plan to quit forever. Are you tired of hearing about the harmful effects of smoking? I’m sure you’ve heard them all before. But please take today to really listen to the reasons and think about them. They should help convince you to quit smoking today and always or, if you’re not a smoker, help a loved one to quit.

Yes, you know smoking causes cancer, but did you know tobacco use is responsible for 30% of the cancer deaths in the US? 30 percent! And only about half of the deaths caused by smoking are from cancer. Smoking is linked to heart disease and stroke and causes painful conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

A sobering statistic is that half of all the people who continue smoking will die because of it. So, if you and your spouse have this habit together, chances are it will kill one of you.

To make it even more real, smoking shortens male smokers’ lives by 13.2 years and female smokers’ lives by 14.5 years! What would you be missing in those 13 years? Is smoking really worth that? Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death. It’s very powerful to know that you can prevent death simply by not smoking.

Research!America and many other organizations dedicate themselves to improving the health of the nation. We advocate for more funding for research so that we can find new drugs or understand diseases better, all so people can live longer. But you don’t have to be an advocate or a scientist to reach that goal. If you quit smoking or convince someone else to, you can prevent illness in the first place, so those drugs aren’t needed.

Smoking-related illnesses and treatments come at a huge cost to our society. Smoking costs more than $196 billion each year in health-related expenses; for the individual, this means about $2,247 in extra medical expenses for each adult smoker per year. Do you have an extra $2,000 lying around to spend on preventable costs? What else could you buy for that money?

Many people are worried about our economy and the cost of health care these days, with good reason, but quitting will decrease that cost without added expense. In fact, you would additionally be saving the money you might otherwise spend on cigarettes. Someone who smokes half a pack of cigarettes a day spends around $75 per month on cigarettes or about $912 per year, money that could easily stay in your pocket.

The good news is that the benefits of quitting start immediately. Only 12 hours after quitting the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal. One year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s, and it's the same as a non-smoker’s 15 years after quitting. Ten years after quitting, your cancer risk decreases and the lung cancer death rate is about half that of smokers’.

So join Americans in quitting smoking today and make a plan to quit for a lifetime.

Much of this information came from the American Cancer Society. Visit their website for more information and tips to help you quit.

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