The Great American Smokeout November 15th, 2018

by Jane Ashley

The American Cancer Society has designated the third Thursday of every year as The Great American Smokeout. About 38 million people in the U.S. still smoke cigarettes. The statistics about smoking are staggering. 

Great American Smokeout

480,000 deaths annually in the U.S. – 1 in every 5 deaths are caused by smoking
• 16 million people are living with a disease caused by smoking
• Smokers die, on average, 10 years before non-smokers
• Total economic costs - $170 billion in medical costs and $156 billion in lost productivity due to early death and exposure to secondary smoke
• Only 3 percent of the tobacco settlement money in 2018 has been spent on smoking cessation and prevention projects.
• 55.4 percent of smokers in the U.S. tried to quit smoking in the past year.

Clearly, there is a HUGE disconnect between our individual states’ efforts and the enormity of the physical and financial costs that smoking causes. Only Alaska and California spend more than 90 percent of their recommended funding.

Gas 2018

How can we help people stop smoking?

The American Cancer Society provides meaningful advice and recommendations that should help people cope with the mental and physical aspects of stopping smoking. Their page includes:

The decision to quit
• Developing a plan
• Getting help for the mental aspects
• Nicotine replacement therapy information
• Prescription drugs
• Other methods to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco

Young People Start Smoking

If you have a family member or friend who is trying to stop smoking , it’s important to support their efforts to stop smoking. Rule #1 for support – don’t offer advice – ask how you can help.

What are the benefits of stopping smoking?

The health benefits of stopping smoking begin almost immediately.

The good news is that there are lots and lots of other benefits too. They include:

Stronger immune systems so you don’t catch colds as often
• Healthier smile – no more tobacco staining on your teeth – simple teeth whitening products will help restore your smile, plus no more bad breath
• Your sense of taste and smell will return
• Healthier skin with less wrinkling and premature aging
• Wrinkles around your lips will go away with time
• Your hair may become thicker and less brittle
• The bags under your eyes may go away
• Fewer age spots
• You’ll delay the development of cataracts
• Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
• Reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction for men
• Improved energy levels
• Reduces the risk of miscarriage or premature birth in women
• Reduces the risk of early menopause in women

And last but not least, you’ll save lots of money.

If you smoke a pack a day, presuming an average cost of $7.00/pack, you’ll save just over $2,500 the first year. Assuming that the price of cigarettes goes up 6 percent annually, which amounts to a whopping $33,676 in 10 years and an astonishing $93,987 in 20 years.
Some employer’s health insurance plans offer substantial premium discounts for non-smokers.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), companies can charge up to 50 percent more than non-smokers in the form of a tobacco use surcharge. 7 states plus the District of Columbia prohibit tobacco use completely – all but 3 of the other states impose the 50 percent surcharge.

Smokers pay more for life insurance.
Resale value of your automobile is lower.
Smoking also makes your home hard to resell.
Check out these other hidden costs of smoking.

Nicotine Is Addictive

Don’t give up!

About 48 million people in the U.S. have quit smoking. But most of them report that it took more than one try to successfully quit smoking. Most people say that they need some sort of help to quit smoking so taking to your doctor about smoking-cessation programs and prescription drugs and patches.

Nicotine is addictive so there is no shame in that fact that it might take you two or three times before you successfully quit smoking. M. D. Anderson provides a comprehensive list of products that can help you quit.

This year’s Great American Smokeout is an ideal time to take stock of your health, your family and your finances. Perhaps the coming year is the year that you’ll be able to stop smoking.

National Jewish Health in Denver operates 12 (at my last count) quit lines in the U.S. that provide free nicotine patches and gum and telephonic counseling. For free! 1-800-QUIT NOW and here's the link.

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