With the coming of this year’s November 19th, American smokers were encouraged to quit during this year’s Great American Smokeout, at least for one day. This event has been around since 1976 and is being held every third Thursday each November by the American Cancer Society, or ACS.
Because of is being the number one cause of preventable disease and death, claiming almost 500 thousand premature deaths each year in the US and over 300 billion dollars in national expenditure, smoking is slowly starting to face more and more criticism and persecution. The next step in combating this addiction is raising the prices of tobacco cigarettes once again, mainly due to the fact that a high price is one of the most effective way through which people quit.
Even though the risk of lung cancer and heart attacks lower right the next day you stopped smoking, the damage dealt to your lungs is unfortunately there to stay. True, the lungs will slowly start to repair themselves after one week of not smoking, but depending of how long and how much you smoked prior to that month, affected lung tissue will remain irreparable.
Taking into consideration the fact that the addiction caused by smoking is largely psychological, the main steps through which it can be prevented are education and support to those who already suffer from it. Group therapies, simple techniques (lying on your back and breathing deeply, when you feel the urge to smoke) and nicotine gum or patches are only some of the options that are presented to people when opting to quit.
Because the first step towards quitting completely is the hardest one, the Great American Smokeout tries to help by making large groups quit at the same time. Social environment is a very important element when considering smoking or quitting, and by making this a nation-wide effort, the numbers of smokers will hopefully decrease dramatically. But this is not just a group effort, you must first want to quit yourself, you cannot be forced into quitting due to the highly probability that you will take up smoking again.
As with most things, the change has to start with you first before it can progress.
Because lung cancer only presents symptoms after it already reached its later stages, symptoms that range from excessive coughing and troubled breathing to coughing up blood and severe chest pains, people are urged to go to regular screenings, even if they don’t smoke a lot. Even second hand smoke can cause an increased chance of lung cancer and heart attacks. This is why one of the ways of preventing smoke-induced diseases is the banning of public smoking.
Even though smokers were encouraged to quit during this year’s Great American Smokeout, you still are at liberty to smoke, you still have the right to do it, but you do not have to right to subject the people around you to an increased risk of smoking-related issues.