Okay, perhaps that headline is a little deceiving. If you clicked to read this hoping for the details on a tasty BBQ event to attend, we apologize. But we still want you to join a Smokeout!
The Great American Smokeout returns November 16th. It’s an annual event that encourages smokers to begin their journey toward kicking the habit. More than 36 million Americans still smoke cigarettes despite it being the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world.
Promoted by The American Cancer Society, the Great American Smokeout aims to preach the benefits of quitting. By quitting, even if it’s for a solely a day, smokers take a critical step toward a healthier lifestyle and reduce their cancer risk.
Your heart rate and blood pressure drop within 20 minutes after your last cigarette. At the 12-hour mark, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Within three months, your circulation and lung function improve and increase. Flash forward five years later and the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is slashed in half. Fifteen years later and the risk of coronary heart disease returns to that of a non-smoker’s. The benefits are apparent and attainable – it starts with one day of not smoking and building on from that.
The Great American Smokeout doesn’t solely hone in on smokers, however. It also addresses people who know people who smoke. Smoking can be an arduous task when flying solo. When someone begins their quitting journey, having support along the way can make all the difference. People quitting are encouraged to lean on their friends and family and those friends and family are encouraged to listen and provide support when called upon.
If you do help a smoker quit, there are some do’s and don’ts to follow. Always respect that it’s the quitter ultimately calling the shots. It’s a lifestyle change they are undergoing – it’s their challenge, not yours. Communicate and confirm with the quitter on the frequency of check-ins on how things are going. And when you do converse, don’t solely focus on if they’ve been smoking – ask how they’ve been feeling! Attempting to take on the smoker’s perspective through this journey helps. It’s a struggle, so don’t upbraid when there are setbacks – be supportive! If there is a setback, remind them how long they previously went without a cigarette and can do it again. Help them remember why they wanted to quit in the first place and remind them they are a quitter and not a smoker.
If you’ve been wanting to quit then here’s a great launching point. Join a community of quitters on the Great American Smokeout.