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Great American Smokeout - Nov. 18 / Lung Cancer Awareness Month

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If you smoke cigarettes, it can be difficult to think of your life any other way. One reason is that nicotine is a highly-addictive drug. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), most smokers use cigarettes because they are addicted to nicotine itself. However, nicotine addiction can have severe consequences—including lung cancer. Nicotine addiction also affects more than just smokers because of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure. 

This year, on November 18, the American Cancer Society will sponsor the Great American Smokeout. This event recognizes the power that cigarettes can have over a person’s life—and their future. Events surrounding the Great American Smokeout are designed to empower cigarette smokers to take the first step toward living a smoke-free life. 

November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which is devoted to highlighting lung cancer and its significant association with smoking. In fact, experts estimate that nine out of ten lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. 

Read on to learn more about the negative impact of smoking and how to take steps toward a smoke-free future. 

Smoking Affects Countless Lives 

According to the American Cancer Society, there are 34 million adults in the United States who smoke cigarettes. Unfortunately, smoking cigarettes can result in a number of negative health consequences. If you smoke cigarettes, you are likely aware of the health risks of this behavior. You may have even tried to stop many times on your own, with no success. 

However, beyond just your own life, smoking affects the lives of many others who are exposed to secondhand smoke. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 58 million people are exposed to secondhand smoke in the US alone. 

Why Quitting Smoking Is So Important 

With each inhalation of a cigarette, microscopic changes begin to occur in your body and in organs as seemingly unrelated as your eyes and your heart. The cumulative effects of cigarette smoking can add up to some significant health problems. 

The health consequences of smoking include: 

  • An increased risk of lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women, according to the National Cancer Institute 
  • An increased risk of non-lung cancers, such as mouth and throat cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and many others 
  • An increased risk of emphysema and chronic bronchitis 
  • An increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and blood vessel inflammation 
  • An increased risk of blood clots 
  • An increased risk of eye disease 

Secondhand smoke exposure also comes with severe health consequences. According to the CDC, secondhand smoke has more than 7,000 chemicals, many of which are carcinogens. The health consequences of secondhand smoke exposure include an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma attacks, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. 

These effects may seem intimidating. However, when it comes to prevention, the power is in your hands. Experts estimate that if you quit smoking before the age of 40, your odds of dying of an early smoking-related illness are cut by 90 percent. 

Tips On How to Quit Smoking 

Quitting can benefit your current health, improve your future health outlook, and keep the people around you safer and healthier. However, it can also be challenging to do without guidance. 

Here are some tips for quitting smoking, as adapted from the American Cancer Society: 

  • Ask your medical provider for an FDA-approved smoking cessation medication. 
  • Seek counseling through a one-on-one health provider, quit-line, or support group. 
  • Surround yourself with people who will support your decision. 

No matter which method, or combination of methods, you choose, having a set plan is key. If you are interested in quitting smoking, it could be the most positive and impactful health decision that you make in your lifetime. Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider for support and helpful resources. 

The Bottom Line 

If you smoke cigarettes and would like to quit—or if you would like to influence others to take this important health step— there is no better time of year than this November. Resources provided on the Great American Smokeout and Lung Cancer Awareness Month websites can be a helpful starting point. To learn more, visit the American Cancer Society today. 

Research and materials for this article were compiled, written, and distributed on behalf of the National Public Health Information Coalition. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the various authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Public Health Information Coalition or its members. 

References: 

  1. Is Nicotine Addictive? https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-nicotine-e-cigarettes/nicotine-addictive 
  1. Great American Smokeout. https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html 
  1. Smoking and Cancer. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/cancer.html 
  1. Lung Cancer Awareness Month. https://www.lung.org/lung-force/about-lung-force/featured-campaigns/lung-cancer-awareness-month 
  1. Lung Cancer Prevention. https://www.cancer.gov/types/lung/patient/lung-prevention-pdq 
  1. Decline Stalls: 58 Million Americans Still Exposed to Secondhand Smoke. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p1206-secondhand-smoke.html 
  1. Former Smokers: What’s Your Risk for Lung Cancer? https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/lung-cancer/former-smoker-whats-your-risk-for-lung-cancer 
  1. Smokefree Text Messaging Programs. https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/text-programs 

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