Why We Need the Great American Smokeout
About 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world.
While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42% in 1965 to 15.1% in 2015), cigar, pipe, and hookah – other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco – are very much on the rise. Smoking kills people – there’s no “safe” way to smoke tobacco.
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age
Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling or medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully.
How the Great American Smokeout began:
The Great American Smokeout event has helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about smoking. These changes have led to community programs and smoke-free laws that are now saving lives across the country.
Annual Great American Smokeout events began in the 1970s, when smoking and secondhand smoke were common.
The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew from a 1970 event in Randolph, Massachusetts, at which Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.
Then in 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day.
The idea caught on, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day.
That California event marked the first Smokeout, and the Society took it nationwide in 1977.
Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way the public views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free – this protects non-smokers and supports smokers who want to quit…
…Those states with strong tobacco control laws are now reaping the fruits of their labor.
From 1965 to today, cigarette smoking among adults in the United States decreased from 42% to about 17%.
Strong smoke-free policies, media campaigns, and increases in the prices of tobacco products are at least partly credited for these decreases…See the entire history of the Great American SmokeOut here.
Get Help Quitting Smoking
Quitting smoking is not easy, but you can do it. To have the best chance of quitting and staying quit, you need to know what you’re up against, what your options are, and where to go for help.
- 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 year after quitting. The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
- 10 years after quitting. Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases, and by year 15 you have no increased risk to your health from smoking at all.
(US Surgeon General’s Report, 2010 and US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. vi, 155, 165
How to Quit Smoking or Smokeless Tobacco and how to stay away from it.
Includes everything from the mental addiction and support for quitting, to prescribed medicines and over-the-counter remedies available.
It may take a mix of these or just never picking up another cigarette again, but you are the one to do it for YOU!
What kind of smoker are you?
Find out by Answering questions like, “What time after waking up do you have your first smoke of the day?” on the, Smoking Habits Quiz to start working on a plan to quit. Then click the “Score Quiz” button to get a profile of your nicotine dependence, along with some ideas about how to tame your cravings in your quest to become a non-smoker.
The key to success in kicking the habit is to create a personal quit plan.
You’ll know more about how strongly addicted you are once you do the quiz, and can use the information to help you design a detailed plan based on your smoking patterns.
There are many resources to help you quit smoking. Call lines, chat rooms, mobile “Quit Smoking” tracking apps, support groups or buddies, medicines both over-the-counter, and prescribed, finding a counselor or smoking cessation specialist to help support you in quitting, and on and on, but none of them will do any good until you decide to quit! Do it for just this one day!
Now the hard part, Staying Tobacco-free After You quit which is the hardest part.
As time goes on it gets easier, and you start noticing patterns and/or triggers that were associated with smoking for you. You will also find the tips & tricks you need to not use tobacco, and slowly but surely, you’ll have greater confidence in getting through the times smoking is all you can think about…Just remember keep your eye on the prize, “Being a NON-SMOKER”! It is possible!
Lily says…Speaking as a “former 1-1/2 to 2 packs of cigarettes a day smoker”, I can tell you what a weird relief it was the day I knew, yesterday was the last day I was going to be a smoker.
Those around me like my family didn’t believe me so they “de cigaretted” my apartment, which still pisses me off! I really wanted the satisfaction of snapping each one of them and throwing them away myself, but oh well. It’s over now!
Thinking about quitting was far more resource draining that quitting ever was, that’s for sure!
Don’t get me wrong, I went through about a 3 day or so nicotine withdrawal, which wasn’t pretty, but once that was over, I have to say I don’t miss them or miss doing it. Really, I don’t.
Currently smoking Smokers said I would miss them, ex-smokers who went back repeatedly to smoking said I couldn’t and wouldn’t stay a quitter.
Well, I am not sorry to say for me cigarettes, smoking them, and especially buying them, is truly OVER!
Okay, there is a teeny-tiny-itsey-bitsey little sliver, of a whisper of a voice in me that says almost never any more. If only there were absolutely NO health side-effects whatsoever, they were FREE, and they didn’t stink at all (I gotta admit I don’t miss that…I’d would still BE smoking right now…
Oops, I sounded pretty sure of myself despite the previous sentence when I was sure I was over the longings, huh.
I have to admit, I still miss the times when people who smoke get up at the break in a meeting and go out together, or when some of my family goes out after the huge Turkey Day dinner and continue to talk and smoke, but it’s still not enough to lure me back.
It’s been a few months shy of 7 years I’ve been tobacco-free, and one thing I do not do is preach about quitting. For me, Lily, it was right. And I will always consider myself an ex-smoker rather than a non-smoker.
You have to make-up your own mind when you are ready, but as an ex-smoker, I gotta say it was worth it for me, and if you asked me before the last 7 years, I would have told you I would flat-out NEVER be a QUITTER…Mostly because I thought it was impossible for ME to do so…Guess what? I lived clear through to the other side of the smoke, and now I almost never think about ever being a cigarette smoker! Come join me when you are ready!
Helping a Smoker Quit – Do’s and Don’ts from the American Cancer Society. This thought-provoking list will help whether you are the smoker wanting to quit or the people around the smoker trying to support the quitter. Establishing some guidelines helps the smoker stay in control of their quitting process, and gives permission to the support members to check-in on the smoker.
American Cancer Society