By: Nana Kori

November 15th is ‘Great American Smokeout Day’! The goal of this day as the title suggests is to get people to stop smoking so that there will be fewer health problems including cancer and emphysema deaths resulting from smoking and second-hand smoke.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, but more than 45 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. However, more than half of these smokers have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year.

Smoking is a hard habit to kick, but the health benefits of quitting are remarkable. You and those around you will live a longer, healthier life! Here are some facts on the benefits of quitting:

  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
  • 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
  •  5 years after quitting: Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
  • 10 years after quitting: The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s. Quitting smoking also lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs.

Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke. Also, think about how much money you would be saving if you didn’t have to buy packs of cigarettes which average out to about $5 a pack in California.

Remember, if you can quit for one day, you can quit for the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that! For more information visit Quit Smoking.