Smoking remains single largest preventable cause of death Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to stop
GALVESTON COUNTY – An estimated 32.4 million American adults still smoke cigarettes and smoking remains the single
largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy. It takes a plan, time and hard work. But, it can be done. Nov. 19 marks the Great American
Smokeout, an annual event to encourage those who smoke cigarettes to stop.
“It starts with day one. 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
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, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
And, after 15 years, their risk for coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
“The sooner you quit, the sooner you reduce your risks of developing cancer and other diseases,” Dawley said. “You
could be a new smoker or someone who has smoked most of their life. It is never too late to quit.”
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 is time to make a plan.
Set a date
Choose the Great American Smokeout or another quit day within the next two weeks.
“Picking a date is vitally important. It’s part of your commitment to yourself,” Dawley said. “Put this date on your
calendar. Share it with your support system.”
Leading up to your quit day, throw away cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays. Remove these items from your
home, car and workplace. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings so go ahead and clean and freshen your car.
Develop a support system
Support is key to your success. 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.
“Your support system is there to help keep you accountable and to encourage you when you’re struggling,” Dawley said.
Be prepared for challenges
The urge to smoke is short – usually only three-five minutes – but those moments can feel intense. Before your quit day,
write down healthy ways to cope. Drink water, exercise, listen to music or call a friend. If you have friends and family
who still smoke, ask them to not smoke around you and to not leave cigarettes where you can see them.
Know your options
Decide on your plan – will you use nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines? Do you plan to take part in support
classes or programs?
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum or other approved quit medication can help
with cravings. It is hard, but chances of success can be improved with help. Getting help through counseling and
medications doubles or even triples chances of quitting successfully.
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 to know what the long-term effects
For more information, visit www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html.
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The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) is the local public health agency for Galveston County, Texas.
GCHD provides services and programs that protect the everyday health and well-being of Galveston County.
P.O. Box 939 La Marque, Texas 77568 • (409) 938-7221