In the month of November, we’re all reminded of things we should be thankful for. Good health is a priceless gift that everyone can appreciate. Tobacco users that take part in this year’s 41st American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout can choose to go tobacco-free for 24 hours or more and immediately begin to reverse the adverse effects of smoking.
“Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in supporting each other to quit smoking,” said Amy Winter, Director of the Office of Tobacco Control at the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). “Smokers can use the date to make a plan in advance to quit smoking that day. By quitting—even for one day—smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.”
About 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42 percent in 1965 to 15.1 percent in 2015), other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco such as cigars, pipes and hookahs are on the rise. Despite the impression that these devices are safer than cigarettes, there is no safe way to smoke tobacco.
In Mississippi, 5,400 adults die each year from smoking, and the main place children are exposed to secondhand smoke is at home. Children are especially vulnerable because they breathe at a faster rate than adults. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age.
“Many loved ones have probably urged you to quit smoking already, and you’ve probably wanted or tried to quit,” said Wendy Magee, director of the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition of Forrest, Jones and Perry Counties. “We know that quitting is hard, but don’t give up. Just as every successful goal starts with planning and preparation, so too does smoking.”
According to the CDC, there are five steps to improve your chance of success:
1. Set a quit date. Choose the Great American Smokeout or another quit day within the next two weeks.
2. Tell your family and friends about your quit plan. Share your quit date with the important people in your life and ask for support. A daily phone call, e-mail or text message can help you stay on course and provide moral support.
3. Be prepared for challenges. The urge to smoke is short—usually only three to five minutes—but those moments can feel intense. Even one puff can feed a craving and make it stronger. Before your quit day, write down healthy ways to cope.
o Drink water
o Listen to a favorite song or play a game
o Call or text a friend
o Sign up for SmokefreeTEXT for 24/7 help on your mobile phone
4. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your home, car and workplace. Throw away your cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays. Clean and freshen your car, home and workplace. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.
5. Talk to your pharmacist, doctor or Quitline coach about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum or other approved quit medication can help with cravings.
If you want to quit using tobacco, contact the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW to receive free counseling and medications such as nicotine patches or gum. For more information, visit www.quitlinems.com. Smokers who want to kick the habit and start on the path toward a healthier life can also use the “Quit for Life” app offered by the American Cancer Society to reach a round-the-clock support network.