The American Cancer Society is marking the 36th Great American Smokeout on November 17, 2011 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet more than 46 million Americans still smoke. However, more than half of these smokers have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year.
In 1954, American Cancer Society researchers were among the first to link cigarette smoking to early death from lung cancer. In 2011, the Society continues to lead the charge to help people stay well by providing tools to help smokers quit.
Most people know that using tobacco can cause lung cancer, but few know it’s also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and some leukemia. It’s also linked to a number of other health problems, from heart disease and emphysema to stroke.
And there is no safe way to use tobacco. Cigars, pipes, and spit and other types of smokeless tobacco all pose serious health risks.
Need more motivation to quit? It takes just minutes for your body to start healing after you quit smoking. You can look forward to better circulation and lung function and an improved sense of taste and smell. And by not buying packs of expensive cigarettes, you’ll also be saving money – and in these times, every penny counts.
Five Keys for Quitting
1. Get ready.
Set a quit date. Change your environment. Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and workplace. Don’t let people smoke in your home. Review your past attempts to quit – think about what worked and what didn’t. Once you quit, don’t smoke – NOT EVEN A PUFF!
2. Get support and encouragement.
Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you, and ask them to put their cigarettes out of sight.
Inform your health care provider (e.g., doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor) about your decision to quit. Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Programs are given at local hospitals and health centers. Call 1-800-227-2345 for information about programs in your area.
3. Learn new skills and behaviors.
Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. When you first try to quit, change your routine. For example, use a different route to work. Do something to reduce your stress – take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. Plan to do something enjoyable every day. Drink a lot of water and other fluids.
4. Get medication, and use it correctly.
Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following medications to help you quit smoking:
•Available by prescription – Bupropion SR (Zyban), Varenicline (Chantix), nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray
•Available over-the-counter – nicotine gum, nicotine patch, and nicotine lozenges
•Remember to ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package.
5. Be prepared for a relapse or difficult situations.
Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit for good. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:
•Alcohol – When you drink alcohol, it lowers your chances of success. It’s best to avoid drinking.
•Other smokers – When you’re around people who smoke, it can make you want to smoke. It’s best to avoid them.
•Weight gain – Many smokers gain weight when they quit, usually fewer than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet, and stay active. Don’t let weight gain distract you from your main goal – quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
•Bad mood or depression – There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking.
Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. The American Cancer Society can tell you about the steps you can take to quit smoking and provide the resources and support that can increase your chances of quitting successfully. To learn about the available tools, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. You can also contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.