The Great American Smokeout

By December 1, 2022Health Tips

For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. Although the actual event happened a couple of weeks ago, it is an important reminder for us to talk about the health risks associated with smoking.

What is the Great American Smokeout?
The Great American SmokeoutIt is an annual event that provides an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, health care providers, and others to encourage people who currently smoke to make a plan to quit smoking. It challenges people to stop smoking and helps people learn about the tools they can use to help them quit. There are many tools available.
Why is this event important?
About 34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes.
Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the US, and the world. It causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the US.
Smoking causes about 90% of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer!
Smoking causes about 80% of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the US would not happen!
Although the rates of cigarette smoking have declined over the past several decades, the gains have been inconsistent. We have seen an increase in smoking among young people recently.
No matter how old you are or how long you have been smoking, quitting has been shown to improve health both immediately and over the long term.
What are the health risks associated with smoking?
Smoking damages nearly every organ of the body! Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop the following health conditions:
  • Heart disease (2-4 times as likely)
  • Stroke (2-4 times as likely)
  • Lung cancer (25 times as likely for men, 25.7 times for women)
  • COPD – includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • Difficulty getting pregnant in women and increased risk for the following pregnancy complications:
    • Premature delivery
    • Stillbirth
    • Low birth weight
    • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS or crib death)
    • Ectopic pregnancy (such as a tubal pregnancy)
    • Cleft lip and palate in infants
  • Problems with men’s sperm, reducing fertility and increasing risk for birth defects
  • Weak bones, particularly in women.
  • Cataracts and macular degeneration in the eyes – potentially causing blindness
  • Diabetes type 2 (30-40% higher risk in smokers)
  • Increased inflammation in the body
  • Decreased immune function
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer in other parts of the body, including:
    • Bladder
    • Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
    • Cervix
    • Colon and rectum
    • Esophagus
    • Kidney and ureter
    • Head and neck cancers (throat, mouth, tongue, tonsils, larynx, soft palate)
    • Liver
    • Pancreas
    • Stomach
  • Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other disease in cancer patients and survivors.
Next week, we will continue our discussion with a focus on quitting smoking.
If you have any questions about The Great American Smokeout, please log into your account and send
us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

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