The Great American Smokeout®, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, takes place this Thursday. The purpose of the event is to encourage smokers to smoke less on Thursday, quit for the day, or even quit for good.
Although the Great American Smokeout didn’t actually begin nationwide until 1977, it was preceded by three important events:
A quit-smoking-for-a-day initiative in 1971 dreamed up by Arthur Mullaney of Massachusetts, who asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on smoking to a scholarship fund;
- Don’t Smoke Day, or D-Day, in Minnesota in 1974, spearheaded by Minnesota newspaper editor Lynn Smith; and
- An event in 1976, sponsored by the California Division of the American Cancer Society, which got nearly 1 million Californians to quit smoking at least for the day.
Due to the success of the California Smokeout, the American Cancer Society (ACS) took the event nationwide the following year.
Whether the topic is smoking cessation or any number of other vital safety and health issues, give us 7 minutes and we’ll give you a complete training session. BLR’s 7-Minute Safety Trainer helps you fulfill key OSHA-required training tasks in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. Try it at no cost and see
ACS says that the Smokeout draws attention to the deaths and health damage caused by smoking. The event has also contributed to smoking bans in workplaces and restaurants, increased taxes on cigarettes, limitations on cigarette promotions in the media, efforts to discourage teen smoking, and many other actions to counter tobacco use.
The Smokeout has also “helped bring about dramatic changes in Americans’ attitudes about smoking,” reports ACS. “These changes have led to community programs and smoke-free laws that are now saving lives in many states.”
States with strong tobacco control laws are now “reaping the fruits of their labor,” says ACS. In these states, fewer people are dying of lung cancer, whereas in states with weak laws, lung cancer rates are higher and climbing.
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Benefits of Quitting
According to ACS and a report by the U.S. Surgeon General, the health benefits of quitting smoking start to take effect almost immediately.
20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drops.
- 12 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
- 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
- 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hairlike structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
- 1 year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
- 5 years after quitting, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
- 10 years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.
- 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue to feature the Smokeout by providing some smoking cessation strategies you can share with your employees, and some information about how BLR’s 7-Minute Safety Trainer can help you help them to quit.
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