Are you contributing to the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States? You could be if you smoke. Smoking cigarettes and cigars is the most common cause of lung cancer, which kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined. Studies have shown that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.
As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society marks the 34th Great American Smokeout on Nov. 19 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life - one that can lead to reducing cancer risk and creating more birthdays.
Most smokers become addicted to tobacco before they are legally old enough to buy cigarettes, and most adolescents who become regular smokers continue to smoke into adulthood, increasing the likelihood of developing smoking-related cancers such as lung cancer. Those who start at younger ages and continue to smoke are at highest risk for tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.
People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke. Ex-smokers enjoy a higher quality of life and reduce their risk of lung cancer - 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of continuing smokers.
Quitting smoking is not easy, and the American Cancer Society wants to help. Smokers who want to quit can call the American Cancer Society Quit For Life Program operated and managed by Free & Clear at (800) 227-2345 for tobacco cessation and coaching services that can help increase their chances of quitting for good. The Great American Smokeout Web site (www.cancer.org/GreatAmericans) also contains user-friendly tips and tools to help smokers quit and remain smoke free, including desktop helpers such as the Craving Stopper and the Quit (countdown to quitting) Clock.
We know that quitting smoking is tough and that most smokers have to try several times before quitting for good. The American Cancer Society offers a variety of effective resources ranging from online tips and tools to personalized telephone coaching by trained specialists. We hope that smokers will use the Great American Smokeout to map out a course of action that will help them to quit, and in turn to stay well and celebrate more birthdays.
Important facts about tobacco use:
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.
Cigarette smoking accounts for about 443,000 premature deaths - including 49,400 in nonsmokers.
Thirty percent of cancer deaths, including 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, can be attributed to tobacco.
Smoking also accounts for $193 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses.
Great progress is being made in reducing tobacco use in the U.S., with adult smoking rates in 2007 declining among all adults to 19.8 percent.
The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for and held its first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day. One million people quit smoking for a day at the 1976 event in California. The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to quit smoking for good.
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than 3 million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As a result, about 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. There has never been a better time to quit smoking. Please join the thousands of smokers across the U.S. who will be participating in the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 19. For more information or to get help call (800) 227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
Liddy Hora heads up community relations locally for the American Cancer Society.