By the HELP Committee and Havre Public Schools for the HDN
It is estimated that at least 70 percent of smokers want to quit, plan to quit, and predict they will quit within the year. That translates to millions of Americans who are hooked on tobacco and would rather not be. Many will use Thursday the annual Great American Smoke-out to quit for the day and some will quit for longer, even for good.
The Great American Smoke-out is a nationally recognized event that challenges people to stop using tobacco. It also raises awareness about the many effective ways to quit for good.
Most folks find that quitting tobacco is hard to do on their own. The American Cancer Society provides a variety of progressive, science-based resources that can double one's chances for quitting successfully.
The idea of a smoke-out began in 1971 when a Massachusetts resident asked people to quit smoking for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a local high school. Then in 1974, a Minnesota newspaper editor spearheaded the state's first D-Day, or Don't Smoke Day. As the idea caught on, the California Division of the American Cancer Society successfully prompted almost a million smokers to quit for the day. The next year, 1977, the American Cancer Society began the promotion nationwide.
It is estimated that about 47 million U.S. adults smoke. Smoking is responsible for one in every five deaths every year. Lung cancer, myeloid leukemia and cancers of the oral cavity, gullet, larynx, pharynx, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bladder, liver, uterus, cervix and nasal sinus are all cancers that smoking causes.
Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States, and among the causes of heart disease, smoking is the biggest cause.
Mark Twain said, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times." Quitting and staying smoke-free can be pretty tough. Nicotine is the biggest reason.
Nicotine is a drug found naturally in the tobacco leaf. It is highly addictive. In fact, it is as addictive as heroin and cocaine. The body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on nicotine. Studies have shown that smokers must overcome both of these to be successful at quitting and staying smoke-free.
Even cutting back can lead to symptoms of withdrawal, both physical and psychological. These symptoms can include any of the following: depression, feelings of frustration and anger; irritability; trouble sleeping; difficulty concentrating; restlessness; headache; fatigue; increased appetite.
These uncomfortable feelings often are the reason a person quitting will go back to smoking. Even after smoking regularly for a few weeks, a person quitting will experience withdrawal symptoms. Only a few hours after the last cigarette the symptoms will begin and usually are at the worst about 48 to 72 hours later.
If you smoke, ask yourself why should you quit? Here are some possible answers:
You likely will live longer than those who continue to smoke.
Quitting decreases the risk of lung cancers, heart disease, stroke, chronic lung diseases, and respiratory illnesses.
You'll look better, feel better, and smell better.
People around you will be healthier.
You won't need to worry about going outside to smoke when the weather is awful.
You'll be setting a great example for your children, grandchildren, etc.
You'll be safer driving and sleeping.
Your house will smell better.
And you'll save lots of money. Think of the fun things you could do with it.
If you want to quit, know that you are not alone. There are many methods available and lots of ways to get help. The things that can help include nicotine replacement therapy, counseling, guide books, and encouragement from family and friends. There are even Internet sites that can provide you with help to quit.
For the Great American Smoke-out, pledge to quit for the day. Let your family, friends, co-workers know and let them know what they can do to help you.
If you don't smoke you can help those who want to quit by being supportive. Ask your favorite restaurant to go completely smoke-free for the day and support them by eating there during that time.
For more ideas of what you can do to stop smoking or to help others quit, contact the HELP Committee at 265-6206.