Say no to tobacco use this Great American Smokeout

Post Date:10/30/2019 4:38 PM

Twenty minutes after quitting smoking, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure drop. Two weeks to three months after, their circulation improves and lung function increases. After one year, their risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes.

And, after 15 years, their risk for coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy. It takes hard work, time and a plan. But it can be done and the American Cancer Society (ACS) is here to help with access to resources and support needed.

Nov. 21 marks the Great American Smokeout, an annual effort to encourage the nearly 34 million adults in the United States who smoke cigarettes to stop.

“You can join the thousands of people across the country who smoke in taking this step toward a healthier life and reducing your cancer risk,” said Eileen Dawley, RN, Galveston County Health District (GCHD) chief nursing officer.

Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death in the world. The habit causes an estimated 480,000 deaths each year – that accounts for about one in five deaths. More than 16 million Americans currently live with a smoking-related disease, according to the ACS.

“If you’re a smoker or tobacco user, setting a date to quit is an incredibly important step,” Dawley said. “You don’t have to stop smoking all in one day. Small steps are still steps moving in the right direction. Choosing a quit date is the first step in making a positive change to quitting tobacco for good.”

Even though e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies them as “tobacco products”, according to the ACS. E-cigarette vapor can contain nicotine and other substances that are addictive and can cause lung disease, heart disease and cancer. It's especially important to know that all JUULs and most e-cigarettes contains nicotine, the same addictive drug that is in regular cigarettes, cigars, hookah, and other tobacco products.

E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and more research is needed over a longer period of time to know what the long-term effects may be.

It’s time to make a plan.

Set a date
Choose the Great American Smokeout or another quit day within the next two weeks.

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. 

Be prepared for challenges
The urge to smoke is short – usually only three-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. Drink water, exercise, listen to music or call a friend.

Remove cigarettes and other tobacco
Remove these items from your home, car and workplace. Throw away cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays.

Clean and freshen your car, home and workplace. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.

Know your options
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum or other approved quit medication can help with cravings. 

Benefits of quitting smoking includes better tasting food, normal sense of smell, teeth and fingernails stop yellowing, not being out of breath from ordinary activities and better smelling breath, hair and clothes.

Quitting smoking, at any age, improves health immediately and over the long term. It’s hard, but chances of success can be improved with help. Getting help through counseling and medications doubles or even triples chances of quitting successfully.

What happens after you quit?

  • 20 minutes after – Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after – The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • Two weeks to three months after – Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • One-nine months after – Coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
  • One year after – The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Heart attack risk drops dramatically.
  • Five years after – Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after two-five years.
  • 10 years after – Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years – Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

For more information about the effects of tobacco use and tips to quit, visit

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