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The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout is tomorrow, November 16th

Every year since 1976, the third Thursday in November marks the American Cancer Society’s “Great American Smokeout,” a day when smokers are encouraged to put down all tobacco products and formulate a plan to quit for good.

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. About half of all Americans who keep smoking will die because of the habit. Each year more than 480,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use. This means smoking causes about 1 out of 5 deaths in the U.S. annually.

Yet, because tobacco is one of the strongest addictions one can have, about 40 million American adults still smoke. Doctors and public health officials used to encourage smokers to quit cold turkey on a single day. Today, the evidence shows that quitting is a process. It starts with a plan, often takes time and requires a lot of support. The American Cancer Society is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support as people make their plan to quit. More information is available at or by calling 1-800-227-2345.

The first Great American Smokeout occurred on November 18, 1976, when nearly one million smokers quit for the day with the help of the American Cancer Society’s California Division. The Society took the program nationwide in 1977. The event has helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about smoking, helping bring about community programs and smoke-free laws that are now saving lives in many states. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free, protecting non-smokers and helping encourage smokers who want to quit.

Below is a timeline of the benefits of quitting:

• 20 minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

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

• 2 weeks to 3 months: circulation improves and lung function increases.

• 1 to 9 months: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to clean the lungs and reduce infection.

• 1 year: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by half

• 5 years: Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.

• 10 years: The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

• 15 years: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.


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