On November 19th of this year Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center (GSAHEC) will celebrate another Great American Smokeout®, a national holiday hosted by the American Cancer Society that provides an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives: not just for a day, but year round. The Great American Smokeout® also provides an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, healthcare providers, and others to encourage people to plan to quit on the date, or plan in advance and initiate a smoking cessation plan on the day of the event. This event not only challenges people to stop smoking, but it also educates people about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit.1
Despite what you may think, it is never too late to quit smoking. In fact, you can experience several benefits of quitting smoking within minutes of cessation and can enjoy the benefits of quitting for years to come. As soon as a person quits, his or her body begins to heal:2
• 20 minutes after quitting: heart rate and blood pressure drop
• 12 hours after quitting: the carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
• 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: blood circulation improves and lung function increases
• 1 to 9 months after quitting: coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Structures in the lungs begin to heal and clean the lungs, reducing that person’s risk of infection. This is critical in fighting illnesses that threaten lung health, such as bronchitis and COVID.
• 1 year after quitting: the risk of coronary heart diseases is half that of someone who smokes. Risk of heart attack decreases significantly.
• 5 years after quitting: risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancer is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk is now that of a nonsmoker. Risk of stroke falls to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
• 10 years after quitting: risk of dying from lung cancer is half that of a smoker.
• 15 years after quitting: risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker.
Along with these great benefits, quitting smoking also reduces the risk of diabetes and improves the health of blood vessels, the heart and the lungs.2
If you or a loved one are looking to quit smoking (or all tobacco use), or if you want to promote The Great American Smokeout® to your business, community groups, or patients, many free resources are available to help someone quit! GSAHEC offers free cessation classes—sponsored by the Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida program—that are available to help someone quit all forms of tobacco. These virtual cessation classes provide information about the effects of tobacco use, the benefits of quitting, and will assist you with developing your own customized quit plan. Free nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum or lozenges (if medically appropriate and while supplies last) are provided with the class. Attendees will also receive a participant workbook, quit kit materials, and follow up support from a trained tobacco treatment specialist. Contact us today at 866-534-7909 or visit www.ahectobacco.com to schedule a class or learn more about the program!