Every third Thursday since 1976, the American Cancer Society has coordinated the Smokeout. It has helped change Americans’ attitudes about smoking, and probably saved millions of lives.
While national smoking rates have dropped dramatically, from about 42 percent of adults in 1965 to about 18 percent, about 42 million adults still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco remains a major killer, responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States, and at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths, the ACS says. (For a statistical profile of U.S. smokers, from The Washington Post, click here.)
Today, smokers have more tools than ever to help quit smoking, but it remains one of the strongest addictions known. Smokers often have to make several quit attempts, using any of several tools, some proven, some not, before they find the method that works for them. Among those tools smokers can consider:
• Nicotine replacement therapy
• Telephone and online based support and counseling
• Quit smoking programs and support groups
• Prescription drugs
Studies show 70 percent of smokers want to quit. Here's 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.