Emory Report

November 1, 1999

 Volume 52, No. 10


Time for the 23rd Annual Great American Smokeout

This year marks the 23rd year that the American Cancer Society (ACS) will host the national Great American Smokeout. The first was organized in 1977, when smokers tried to quit for one day to prove they could do it.

Since the first event, millions of people have quit smoking, and each year more Americans try to quit smoking on this day than any other. Held annually on the third Thursday of November, this year's event is Nov. 18. Look for related displays around campus that day.

Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. One out of five deaths in this country results from the use of tobacco, and smoking claims more than 400,000 American lives each year, according to the ACS. Almost half of all smokers between the ages of 35 and 69 die prematurely; smokers could be losing an average of 20 to 25 years of their lives. Ninety percent of new smokers are children and teenagers, and 3,000 children start smoking every day, replacing the smokers who quit or die prematurely.

While smoking a cigarette, the smoker is exposed to deadly chemicals, tars and carbon monoxide; cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain more than 4,000 chemicals, and 43 of them cause cancer. Nicotine occurs naturally in tobacco and keeps many people addicted to smoking. Each puff of a cigarette delivers a concentrated dose of nicotine straight to the brain and reinforces the need for the next puff.

If you plan to quit, ask yourself three questions:

1. Why do I want to quit smoking?

2. What method will I use to quit smoking?

3. How do I stay smoke-free?

There are three good reasons to quit smoking: your family, your kids and yourself. If you die prematurely from a smoking-related illness, who will do all the things you do for your family? Kids exposed to secondhand smoke at home are more prone to colds, ear infections and allergies than children of nonsmoking parents.

It's never too late to quit smoking. Right away, you'll look better, feel better and enjoy life more. You'll no longer have yellow teeth and fingers, a hacking cough or a deficient sense of taste and smell.

The most common smoking cessation methods are:

  • cold turkey, where you stop suddenly.
  • gradual, where you decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke over time.
  • over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy, either in gum or patch form.

To stay smoke-free, sign a contract and hang it up in a conspicuous place. Tell your friends and family that you are trying to quit smoking and let them know what they can do to help. Put away smoking materials, including lighters, matches, and ashtrays. Visit places where smoking is not allowed, such as museums and movies. Have carrot sticks or sugarless candy accessible. During the Great American Smokeout, have a co-worker, frien, or family member "adopt" you to help you get through that one day without smoking a cigarette.

To maximize your chances of staying smoke-free for good, participate in the "Commit to Quit" plan developed by the ACS. Contact your local chapter or call 1-800-ACS-2345 for more information. The information in this article can be found on the ACS web site at <www.cancer.org>.

If you are a smoker, please participate in this year's Great American Smokeout. Do it for yourself.

Wellness is sponsored by the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education of the Rollins School of Public Health.

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