For 40 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has waged the Great American Smokeout. Held on the third Thursday in November, the goal is to encourage smokers to refrain from smoking for one day. The ACS hopes that one day of abstinence from smoking will lead to a lifetime of freedom.
Quitting smoking was the single hardest thing I ever did. It’s been about 30 years since I picked up a cigarette, and it has been 30 years of freedom. When I quit smoking, I vowed I would not become a preachy ex-smoker. I believe I have kept my promise. I am sympathetic to the hideous and all-encompassing nature of this addiction. However, compassion does not mean silence and if there are any smokers still with me at this point, I hope you will consider quitting.
According to the CDC, “Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.”
It is hard to quit. Withdrawal is very unpleasant. Some claim that smoking is a way to cope with stress. Some have had trouble quitting in the past. However, just like drugs and alcohol, there is help for tobacco dependence. There are many free resources for help in quitting (see Resources). Medicare offers smoking cessation coverage for some individuals. Many health insurance companies cover treatment for it. There are books, groups, telephone services, and online support. Acupuncture, acupressure, hypnosis, biofeedback, massage, and stress reduction may also help.
Experts agree that success is most likely to occur with the use of simultaneous tools. These include prescription and non-prescription interventions, counseling and support. Studies show that people who seek outside help are more likely to quit smoking permanently than those who try to quit on their own.
People can and do quit on their own. Whether you do this alone or with support is your choice, with “choice” being the important word here. Has the addictive nature of tobacco robbed you of the freedom to choose health over smoking? If you are ready to reclaim your freedom from cigarettes, I suggest you make a plan. The resources at the end of this article can help you formulate a plan. It has been said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Make a plan, stick to it and you increase your chances of success. If the plan does not work, make a new plan. Never give up. The average smoker has five to seven attempts to quit before doing so permanently.
Seven minutes of life is lost with each cigarette that is smoked. You do the math. Life is short enough. Mark your calendars. The next Great American Smokeout is November 16, 2017.
- American Cancer Society – www.cancer.org
- American Lung Association – www.lungusa.org
- SmokeFree.Gov – www.smokefree.gov
- The Great American Smokeout – www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html