Quitting smoking has immediate benefits
Do you like birthdays? Why not create more for yourself?
Thursday was the 34th annual Great American Smokeout, challenging people not to smoke cigarettes for 24 hours, hoping their decision to quit will last forever.
By taking steps toward a healthier life, smokers can gain years on their life expectancy:
Those who quit at 35 can gain eight more birthdays, and those who quit at 55 can gain about five more, according to the American Cancer Society.
Despite strides made reducing cigarette smoking for almost 15 consecutive years, smoking among U.S. adults rose slightly to just more than 20 percent, according to a 2008 national survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reap the benefits
The benefits of quitting smoking begin almost immediately after the last puff.
Within 20 minutes: Blood pressure and heart rate decrease.
Within eight hours: The oxygen level in the blood increases to normal
Within 24 hours: The chance of a heart attack decreases and lung function begins to improve.
Within 48 hours: Nerve endings begin regrowth, ability to smell and taste improves.
Between two weeks and three months: Circulation improves and lung function increases, lessening fatigue
Five to 15 years later: many risk factors that once existed are gone, including for cancer and stroke.
Lung cancer is the top cause of death; smoking accounts for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. Every year more than 20,000 Illinoisans die from cigarette smoking, and in the United States, one out of every five deaths is attributed to smoking.
In Illinois, 21 percent of the population smokes. In Peoria County, that number dwindles to 15 percent. About half of smokers have attempted to quit, but only up to 10 percent are successful.
21 states have comprehensive laws banning smoking in both public and private workplaces, restaurants and bars.
The other side
“I’ve never seen any effect due (from the smokeout),” said Tim Rohlf, who owns several Smokers Outlet stores. “It’s people’s choice to quit for a day. If it helps people quit, great, and if not, that’s OK, too. New Year’s resolutions have a lot bigger effect than the Great American Smokeout.”
Smokers nationwide pay an average $4.32 for one pack of cigarettes and often experience higher health and life insurance premiums.
The cost of health care related to smoking in Illinois is $4.1 billion. Annually in the U.S., cigarette smoking costs more than $193 billion in lost productivity and health care expenditures.
Karen McDonald can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.