For one day out of every year, Americans rally around each other to quit smoking. November 15th marks the date of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. It is a day that smokers across the nation try to quit smoking for good. Only about 4-7% of the 45 million smokers that attempt to quit smoking are successful without medicine or other forms of help. If you are part of the more than 90%, and if you haven’t been able to kick the habit since you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, give it a try November 15th - millions of people will be supporting you and trying to do the same.
Quitting Will Save Your Life
Smoking remains the most preventable cause of death in the United States. Tobacco use is the cause of about 1 of 5 deaths in the US, 1 of 3 cancer related deaths, and 4 of 5 lung cancer deaths. What does this mean? It means that if you quit smoking, it could save your life.
4 Steps on How to Start
- Make the Choice for Yourself - Only you can decide to quit. Outline the reasons why quitting is important to you and remind yourself of them when you feel like giving in.
- Pick a Date - Choosing a set date will hold you more accountable to yourself. Choose November 15th or another meaningful date.
- Prepare for the Day - Do not be naive about quitting “cold turkey”. Prepare for the day by telling your friends and family, getting rid of all smoking related items in your home, planning substitutes (gum, things to munch on, etc.), decide on your method of quitting, practice visualizing yourself saying “no”, find a support system, and be honest with yourself about the physical and mental withdrawals ahead.
- Kick It for Good - Quitting for life is no easy feat. It may be one of the hardest things you do during your battle with cancer. The biggest tip is willpower and determination. Keep at it everyday, remind yourself why you quit, continue to get support, be realistic and do not give up if you slip and start smoking again. You can always quit.
Misconceptions of Tobacco Use and Lung Cancer
- There is no safe way to smoke cigarettes. This includes menthol cigarettes, hand-rolled cigarettes, and herbal cigarettes.
- Cigarette smoking is addictive. Nicotine is an addictive drug that all humans are susceptible to.
- Smoking “occasionally” can still lead to lung cancer. Even smoking only 1 to 4 cigarettes a day can jeopardize your health.
- Smoking “light” cigarettes does not put you at a lower risk.
- If you do not inhale when you smoke, it still damages your lungs.
- Chewing tobacco, smoking pipes, and cigars are all harmful to your lungs.
- Secondhand smoke also causes lung cancer.
- Smoking will affect women who are pregnant and can cause complications, miscarriages, premature births, having stillborn, and birth defects in your child.
- If you are a lifelong smoker, it is still worth it to quit. Your body will start to restore itself and you will lower your chance of getting cancer.
Other Causes of Lung Cancer
Unfortunately, for non-smokers or “never smokers” (people who have smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime), there is still a risk of lung cancer. Tobacco is the cause of about 87% of lung cancer, but the other 13% is caused by other risk factors. Causes include secondhand smoke, exposure to radon gas, exposure to carcinogens, and air pollution. The cause second to tobacco use is radon gas. Radon can be found in your home, but it is impossible to detect without the right tools. Consider purchasing a radon detector to begin to test your home for dangerous amounts of radon.
Tools You Can Use
The good news is that the Great American Smokeout provides camaraderie and support around the nation, but it also provides smokers with information about tools they can use to quit smoking for good. Here is a list of some of the tools that have been most successful for people in the past.
- American Cancer Society’s Quit for Life program is a phone and web-based coaching program that matches patients with coaches to develop a plan to quit smoking for life.
For more information call: 1-800-227-2345.
- QuitNet.com is an online community helping each other quit together. Visit their website here.
- The National Cancer Institute has a ‘Smoking Quitline’. Call 1-877-448-7848 for live help.
- For more resources, visit the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting web page.
There are more than 45 million smokers in the United States today. Of those 45 million, at least half will try to quit on November 15th. That support should be inspiration enough to get you through the next few steps of trying to quit smoking. Join the millions and learn more about the Great American Smokeout here.
American Cancer Society. Guide to Quitting Smoking. Atlanta: American Cancer Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.
Simon, Stacy. “Lung Cancer Also Affects Nonsmokers.” 15 Nov. 2011. Cancer.org American Cancer Society. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.