Great American Smokeout celebrates 25 years smoke-free

Ten million Americans are expected to participate in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 15 by smoking less or quitting. Since this American Cancer Society event went national 25 years ago, it has also spurred incredible changes in how society views tobacco and smoking. Prepare to make Nov. 15th your quit day. What does nicotine do’ Nicotine is a poison. Taken in large concentrated doses it can kill a person by paralyzing the muscles used for breathing. Smokers usually take it in small amounts that the body quickly breaks down and gets rid of, which is why the nicotine does not kill instantly. The first dose causes a person to feel awake and alert, while later doses result in a calm, relaxed feeling. Nicotine can make new smokers, and regular smokers who get too much of it, feel dizzy or nauseated. The resting heart rate for young smokers increases two to three beats per minute. It also lowers skin temperature and reduces blood flow in the legs and feet. Evidence shows that nicotine plays an important role in increasing smokers’ risk of heart disease and stroke. Aren’t teens less likely to get addicted’ No. In fact, the younger people start smoking cigarettes, the more likely they are to become addicted to nicotine. Adolescents underestimate the addictiveness of nicotine. Nearly 75 percent of daily smokers who think they will not smoke in five years are still smoking five to six years later. What are the chances that smoking will kill you’ About 4 million people die worldwide each year as a result of smoking. In the US, tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths, killing more than 400,000 Americans each year. Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in our society. Statistically, smokers die 10-12 years younger than nonsmokers. A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, such as smoking, can be controlled. Others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed. But having a risk factor, or even several, doesn’t mean that a person will get the disease. Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. Tobacco smoking is thought to be responsible for eight out of 10 cases of lung cancer. The longer a person has been smoking and the more packs per day smoked, the greater the risk. If a person stops smoking before lung cancer develops, the lung tissue slowly returns to normal. Stopping smoking at any age lowers the risk of lung cancer. Cigar and pipe smoking are almost as likely to cause lung cancer as cigarette smoking. There is no evidence that smoking low tar cigarettes reduces the risk of lung cancer. Nonsmokers who breathe the smoke of others also increase their risk of lung cancer. Non-smoking spouses of smokers, for example, have a 30 percent greater risk of developing lung cancer than do spouses of nonsmokers. Workers exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace are also more likely to get lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently launched a public health campaign to encourage parents who smoke not to do so in the home, noting that secondhand smoke’known to cause cancer in humans’is linked to a host of other childhood illnesses as well. The following is a list of tips provided by the American Cancer Society to help smokers abandon the habit: ‘Don’t keep your intention to quit a secret. Include your friends and family in your quitting process; they can offer much needed support. ‘Clear the places where you usually smoke of anything that would remind you of cigarettes’like lighters, ashtrays or matches. Also ask other smokers not to smoke around you, and clean your house and car thoroughly to remove the smell of cigarettes. ‘Avoid bars and other places where smokers gather; go to the movies, museums or other places where smoking is not allowed. ‘Calm the jitters with long strolls and deep breaths of fresh air, and find things to keep your hands busy, like crossword puzzles or building a model ship. ‘When the urge strikes, do something else. Call a supportive friend. Do brief exercises such as push-ups, walking up a flight of stairs or touching your toes. Keep oral substitutes like carrots, apples, raisins or gum handy. And never allow yourself to think that “one won’t hurt,” because it will. When you are ready to quit, the American Cancer Society can help. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org for more information.

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