The Great American Smokeout, Nov. 19 Quit for 1 day, then 2 . . .
LAS VEGAS –The Great American Smokeout debuted in 1976 as an opportunity for smokers to give up the habit for just one day with hope the decision would lead to a permanent change. This year, the American Cancer Society has designated Thursday, Nov. 19 as the Great American Smokeout. The Southern Nevada Health District encourages smokers in the community to participate and to commit to a long-term plan to quit for good. For information about tobacco products, secondhand smoke, or to access downloadable No Smoking signs, contact the health district’s Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at (702) 759-1270 or visit www.GetHealthyClarkCounty.org
Nevada smokers can contact the Nevada Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (800-784-8669) to access a free, phone-based service for anyone age 13 or older; callers will be able to speak with a ‘coach’ who can offer quitting assistance. Quitline counselors are available in English and Spanish. The Quitline is available Monday – Sunday, 4 a.m. – 10 p.m. (PT). Through the Quitline program, people can receive a free supply of nicotine replacement patches, gum or lozenges. Coaches will determine eligibility to receive the free therapy. In addition, the Nevada Tobacco Quitline offers a free, online service to assist enrolled participants in accessing research-based information, coaches, and a community of individuals who are in the process of quitting. Coaches can provide information about dealing with stress and fighting cravings, as well as coping with weight gain and other issues that occur when people attempt to quit smoking.
Twenty minutes after squashing out a final cigarette, a former smoker reaps the benefits of quitting when the heart rate drops to a normal level. In three months, the risk of a heart attack drops; in one year, the added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s; in five to 15 years, the risk of a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s; and 15 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer or bladder cancer is reduced to half of smoker’s risk and the risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker’s.
In Clark County, nearly eight of 10 residents are non-smokers. Each year, approximately 1,500 Nevadans under age 18 become daily smokers. About 80 percent of adult smokers became regular smokers before the age of 18. Health care costs are about $1.08 billion for smoking-related illnesses and 4,100 Nevadans die from smoking-related illnesses each year. The average smoker will spend approximately $2,000 annually on cigarettes.
Many Americans are choosing to use alternative tobacco products to assist them to quit smoking. The health district reminds potential quitters that such products, like e-cigarettes, have not been approved by the FDA as smoking cessation tools. The most effective way to quit smoking is to make a plan and get assistance to develop a strategy. Quitting tips include identifying triggers and habits, such as an ‘after dinner’ cigarette, driving, consuming alcohol or coffee. The American Cancer Society offers several tips to assist: • Spend time in places where smoking is prohibited, especially the first few days after quitting • Drink large quantities of water and fruit juice • Avoid alcohol, coffee, and other beverages associated with smoking • Eat several small meals to maintain blood sugar levels, avoid sugary or spicy foods that trigger a desire for cigarettes • Take deep rhythmic breaths to relax • Join a support group