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Great American Smokeout - November 17, 2011

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As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society marks the 36th Great American Smokeout on November 17 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit. Smokers who kick the habit can expect to live as many as 10 years longer than those who continue to smoke.

Smokers who want to quit can call the American Cancer Society Quit For Life® Program at 1-800-227-2345 for telephone coaching by trained specialists that will double their chances of quitting. The Society also has online tools at, such as a crave button and a quit clock to help smokers plan towards kicking the habit for good.

Research shows that much of the risk of premature death from smoking could be prevented by quitting. Smokers who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. Smokers who quit reduce their risk of lung cancer . In fact, 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. Quitting also lowers the risk for other major diseases including heart disease and stroke

Did you know?:

- Tobacco use remains the world’s most preventable cause of death
- Tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S., causing 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths.
- Cigarette smoking accounts for about 443,000 premature deaths – including 49,400 in nonsmokers.
- Smoking accounts for more than $193 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses annually.

The benefits of quitting:

- 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
(Mahmud A, Feely J. Effect of Smoking on Arterial Stiffness and Pulse Pressure Amplification. Hypertension. 2003;41:183.)

- 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1988, p. 202)

- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. 193, 194, 196, 285, 323)

- 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)

- 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)

- 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker 5 to 15 years after quitting. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)

- 10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a person who continues smoking. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decreases, too. (US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. vi, 131, 148, 152, 155, 164, 166)

- 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker's.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)

Click here for more data on tobacco use and cancer. 

Secondhand smoke is a health hazard, too
• Secondhand smoke contains more than 50 known or probable carcinogens and more than 4,000 chemicals including formaldehyde, arsenic, cyanide, and carbon monoxide.
• Secondhand smoke is responsible for 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually in otherwise healthy nonsmokers.
• Secondhand smoke causes cancer, heart, and lung disease and kills nearly 50,000 nonsmoking Americans each year, including 3,400 deaths from lung cancer..
• Secondhand smoke can cause or exacerbate a wide range of adverse health effects, including cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Society are committed to working community by community and state by state until every worker in America is protected from secondhand smoke through comprehensive smoke-free laws. The national smoke-free trend has accelerated in recent years. Twenty-three states, including all six in New England, have passed a statewide comprehensive smoke-free law which requires 100% smoke-free workplaces, including bars and restaurants. Across the United States, 21,838 municipalities are covered by a 100% smokefree provision in workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars, by a state, commonwealth, or local law, representing 79% of the US population.

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