American Cancer Society Urges Smokers to Quit for the Day, Perhaps for Good

American Cancer Society
Tuesday, 18 November 2003

27th Great American Smokeout Thursday Nov. 20 2003

The American Cancer Society is urging millions of smokers across the country to give up their cigarettes for the day and perhaps a lifetime for the 27th American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout®, Thursday Nov. 20. Last year, more than 8.8 million smokers took part by smoking less or not at all. Nearly 2.8 million smokers gave up completely for the day. The American Cancer Society offers the following tips to help smokers get through the day, or any day, without cigarettes.

  • Smoking urges are worst in the first two weeks. After that they are most likely to recur in situations associated with smoking (e.g., after dinner or in the car).
  • Urges last a few minutes at most, so practice the four Ds: DEEP breaths. DO something else to get your mind off the craving (call a friend; go for a walk; chew on a carrot stick). DRINK lots of water throughout the day (especially during a craving). DELAY reaching for a cigarette; the urge will pass.
  • Try to avoid situations that encourage smoking. If you can't, practice telling people you've just quit or that you're a non-smoker.
  • Change your routines. If you always light up when you have a coffee, drink tea or juice instead. If you always smoked while watching the evening news, read the paper.
  • Use the many tools available. Nicotine patches and gum are available over-the-counter; a nicotine nasal spray and a smoking-cessation medication are available by prescription; toll-free help lines and even online support are available.
  • Most smokers have to try several methods before they success in quitting, so keep trying until you find what works for you.

To help encourage smokers to stick with it and get through those urges, its important to note the healthy changes that start happening, some of them quite quickly. Within the first 20 minutes of quitting:

  • Blood pressure drops

  • Increased circulation warms your hands and feet

  • Heart rate goes down

In 8 hours:

  • Carbon monoxide levels in blood drop to normal

  • Oxygen levels in blood rise to normal

In 24 hours:

  • Chance of having a heart attack begins to drop

In 48 hours:

  • Sense of taste and smell improve

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting:

  • Circulation improves

  • Lung function increases as much as 30 percent

1 to 9 months after quitting:

  • Coughing, fatigue, sinus congestion and shortness of breath decrease

  • Cilia regain normal function in lungs, reducing infection

1 year after quitting:

  • Excess risk of heart attack and death from heart disease is cut in half

5 to 15 years after quitting:

  • Risk of stroke is reduced to that of a non-smoker

15 years after quitting:

  • Risk of death is nearly that of people who've never smoked

Other benefits of quitting

  • Your clothes won't smell like smoke

  • You'll save a lot of money. A pack a day smoker who spends $2.00 a pack will save about $700 per year, not counting health costs

  • Smokers who quit by age 50 have cut their risk of death compared to continuing smokers in half

For more information, or to contact American Cancer Society, see their website at:

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