Every third Thursday in November is reserved for the Great American Smokeout. This late into November, you probably have turkey on the brain. The Great American Smokeout might conjure images of gigantic smoker cookers billowing marvelous plumes of smoke and cooking up plump and juicy turkeys all across the country. Save those thoughts for next week.
The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout has nothing to do with turkeys or Thanksgiving, but it has everything to do with smoking. Almost 44 million Americans, or 1 out of 7, smoke cigarettes. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.
The immediate goal of the Great American Smokeout is to get smokers to stop smoking for 24 hours. However, the hope is that getting people to participate in the event and stop smoking for the day will help encourage smokers to quit smoking for good. Giving up smoking, even if it’s just for 24 hours, is a step in the right direction to a healthier life.
It’s always easier to do something when you have the support of others. If you’ve ever tried to change your diet or exercise more, you know that it can be difficult to do those things on your own, no matter how beneficial they are to your health. Giving up cigarettes and tobacco is one of the most important things you can do to work towards healthy living, and during the Great American Smokeout, America is there to support your decision.
You might be skeptical about the idea that quitting cigarettes for 24 hours can make any difference at all. However, you can start to feel a difference by not smoking, even just for a day. For example, after 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse will drop to normal. After 8 hours the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal and the oxygen level increases to normal. At 24 hours your chance of a heart attack decreases.
Of course, you have to completely give up smoking for your body to start repairing itself, and that’s a process that could take years, or even decades. While a smoker can decrease his or her risk of heart disease to that of a non-smoker, often the damage that smoking does to lungs and other parts of the body is irreversible. However, the sooner you stop, the better it is for your health.
So if you’re a smoker, take part in the Great American Smokeout tomorrow, and stop smoking for good! Encourage friends or family who smoke to do the same!