Did you know, according to the American Cancer Society, smoking kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined? Every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones are damaged by smoking. Not only does it lead to lung cancer, but it is also increases the risk factor for cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, cervix, liver, bladder, pancreas, stomach, colon/rectum, and myeloid leukemia. Because there is no safe way to use tobacco, all forms can cause cancer, which means the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco increase these risks.
Because this is one of the most deadly addictions, the American Cancer Society has sponsored this event for decades, and it starts with the very first step: Deciding to Quit. The ACS says once you make that decision, you must have a plan. Here are their suggestions:
- Make the decision to quit smoking:
- Think about why you want to quit: Write down the reasons you want to quit; you can look at them every time you want to smoke.
- Set your Quit Date and stick to it:
- Picking your Quit Date is important; don’t choose a date too far away and run the risk of changing your mind beforehand. Try picking a date that’s meaningful to you, like a birthday or anniversary; you could even choose November 21st, the day of The Great American Smokeout! Whatever date you select, make a strong, concerted effort to stick to it.
- How do you plan to quit?
- There are many ways to quit smoking, from nicotine replacement therapy, prescription drugs, to just quitting cold turkey. Whichever method you choose, research and decide, and consult with your physician; they are sure to offer advice and support.
- A big factor in deciding to quit smoking is having enough support available. There are stop-smoking programs, telephone quit-lines, and many other resources offered. Make sure to tell family and friends of the decision, too; they can help with encouragement.
Once the plan is made to quit, all that’s left is to prepare for QUIT DAY, according to ACS, this is how:
- Pick the date, mark it on your calendar
- Tell friends and family
- Get rid of all tobacco-related items at home, work, and car
- Stock up on oral substitutes: gum, carrot sticks, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, straws, and/or toothpicks
- Decide on a plan. Will you use Nicotine Replacement Therapy or other medicines? Will you attend a stop-smoking class? If so, sign up now.
- Practice saying, “No, thanks, I don’t smoke.”
- Set up a support system, either a group program, friend, or family member who is willing to help you
- Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you.
- Think about past attempts to quit and try to figure what worked and what didn’t.
For this information and so much more, please visit the American Cancer Society for a guide to overcoming tobacco addiction, why The Great American Smokeout event is so important, and how you can access event tools and resources to make this year’s Quit Day successful!