Every year, on the 3rd Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society challenges smokers to quit during the Great American Smokeout (this Thursday 11/15) for at least 24 hours, to start their journey to a smoke-free life. We know it is difficult to quit smoking. Nicotine dependence is powerful, and it can take several attempts to stop smoking.
With that in mind, we’re giving you a good reason for every hour of Thursday to keep you motivated all day long.
24 reasons to quit
12:00am: To help your immune system help you
Smokers are more likely to get sick. Smoking harms the immune system and can make your body less effective at fighting off infections and it even decreases your body’s ability to fight off cancer!
1:00am: For the developing brains in your life
Have any kids or teens in your life? Nicotine during adolescence and young adulthood can have long-term negative impacts on brain development (brains develop until age 25) such as reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, mood disorders, and addiction. Protect them from secondhand smoke and set a good example for a tobacco-free life.
2:00am: Stop that nagging cough
People who smoke or who live with a smoker are at higher risk of both acute and chronic bronchitis.
3:00am: Fewer tummy troubles
Smoking increases the risk of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, because smoking weakens the lower esophageal sphincter, the flap that keeps stomach contents from flowing back into the esophagus. Quit smoking and get rid of that painful burning.
4:00am: Preserve your sense of smell
Shortly after quitting smoking, your sense of smell returns to normal.
5:00am: For your partner
Seeing someone else smoke can be a trigger for someone trying to quit. Having a smoke-free home may make it easier for you both to quit.
6:00am: Fewer wrinkles
Quitting smoking is better than anti-aging lotion. Quitting can help clear up blemishes and protect your skin from premature aging and wrinkling.
7:00am: Faster healing cuts and scrapes
Smoking causes wounds to heal slower because it reduces blood flow to the skin.
8:00am: A more powerful cup o’ Joe
Smoking causes the body to metabolize caffeine more quickly. A smoker who usually drinks two cups of coffee in the morning, will feel stronger caffeine effects from the same two cups of coffee after quitting smoking. And imagine the money you’ll save too!
9:00am: Have more money
Smoking cigarettes is expensive. A pack of cigarettes in Washington costs about $8-$11. Calculate how much money you could save if you quit smoking.
10:00am: Less time at the dentist.
Smoking puts you at greater risk for many dental problems, including enamel erosion, gum disease, and oral cancer.
11:00am: Fewer pills
Smoking causes liver enzymes to work faster than usual. Because they are working hard to remove harmful chemicals and toxins from tobacco smoke, some medications are taken out of the body faster than usual. Smokers sometimes need to take higher medication doses to get the same effect.
12:00pm: More delicious food
Smoking can dull your taste buds. Just a few days after quitting, your taste buds can kick back in.
1:00pm: Fresher breath, fewer mints
In 2016, the North American chewing gum market took in 3.95 billion dollars in sales, but it would take less of your money if you didn’t have to freshen your breath after every smoke.
2:00pm: Better hearing
Smoking cigarettes may raise the risk of hearing loss, and the more you smoke, the higher the risk.
3:00pm: Warmer hands and feet
When you quit smoking, your circulation gets better right away. Your heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal after quitting.
4:00pm: Save trees and the environment
Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the country. Toxic chemicals can leach into the environment from cigarette waste, leading to land, water, and air pollution. Tobacco cultivation also significantly contributes to deforestation and degradation of the environment.
5:00pm: Be warmer in the winter
No more standing in the PNW winter rain outside bars and restaurants. In Washington, you have to be at least 25 feet away from entrances, exits and windows to public places.
6:00pm: Protect Fido and Fluffy
Secondhand and third-hand smoke are not only harmful for adults and children, but for your pets, too. Third-hand smoke is residue from smoking that can get on skin, clothes, carpets, furniture, and animal fur and then become ingested by your furry friends.
7:00pm: Make that evening workout easier
Cigarettes produce carbon monoxide, which, when inhaled, builds up CO in your blood stream. CO binds to oxygen-carrying red blood cells in your body, depriving you of oxygen, and limiting the amount of oxygen that is getting to your heart, lungs, and muscles.
8:00pm: NO mo’ FOMO
Stop leaving the party/movie/dinner to go smoke. You’re missing out on the fun inside!
9:00pm: More ZZZZs for you – and your partner
When you quit smoking, breathing is easier, and better breathing can mean better sleep. Also, smokers are more likely to snore, and so are non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke on a daily basis!
10:00pm: Protect your family and friends
There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure. Since 1964, approximately 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.
11:00pm: Longer life!
Smokers who quit before age 40 reduce their chance of dying too early from smoke-related diseases by about 90 percent. Those who quit by age 45-54 reduce their change of dying too early by about two-thirds. Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.
We couldn’t write about smoking cessation without mentioning that smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. Each year in the United States, cigarette smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths, including approximately 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmoking adults. And, 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. Decreased risk for heart attack, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and other cancers are all powerful reasons to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. You can find resources and ideas to help you quit here, and remember to check back to our list to help you stay motivated every hour of the day this Great American Smokeout.
Originally published November 13, 2018.