November 17 is the date this year of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. This date is meant to encourage the over 42 million smokers in the United States to either develop a plan to quit or use the date as their official quit date. What a lot of people don’t know is the long history of the Great American Smokeout. Events started in the 70s and have contributed over the years to the many changes in our smoking laws for public places, workplaces, hospitals and in tobacco advertising. These changes have protected non-smokers and supported smokers who wanted to quit, saving millions of lives along the way.
Take it from me, an ex-smoker named Carla, that quitting tobacco is one of the hardest things someone can do. I smoked for many years beginning the habit when I was 16 years old and started to make commitments to quit beginning at age 40. Not only did I try the cold turkey route numerous times, but the nicotine gum and patches. It took my third time using the nicotine patches before I was able to stay off nicotine, and I’m confident I’ll never smoke cigarettes again.
If you or someone you know is contemplating quitting, research shows that smokers who have support are more likely to quit for good. There are many more tools and resources available now than when I started quitting. Not only are there the traditional nicotine replacement products, but there are prescription products to lessen cravings. Health insurers are on board to provide support with benefits and incentives. Telephone hotlines, stop smoking groups, counseling, and even online quit groups can help you feel like you’re not alone in your quest to be tobacco-free. Friends and family members can provide encouragement and support, but make sure you inform your support network about your plan. If they don’t know, they can’t help.
You’ll start noticing the benefits right away for some things. Others may take a little more time.
· Being less out of breath climbing stairs or participating in other activities
· Food tastes better
· Sense of smell returns
· Hair, clothes and your vehicle no longer reek of smoke
· Teeth and nails stop yellowing
· The damaging effects of tobacco will no longer play havoc with your skin and body systems
· Save money every day you don’t smoke
· Smoke-free buildings and events no longer bother you. You’ll start welcoming them!
· Breathe deep. Enjoy the fresh air without coughing.
There are many tools and resources available on the American Cancer Society website regarding the Great American Smokeout and about smoking in general. You can call them anytime at 800-227-2345 for more information on support and/or telephone coaching in your area. If you’re a smoker, circle the date of November 17 to be the beginning of your smoke-free life. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/greatamericansmokeout/index
Staying away from tobacco is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Claim victory over tobacco addiction. You won’t regret it.