I don't smoke. Never have, but I have been around smokers all of my life. I wish I could get all of the people I love to quit smoking. Today (Thursday, November 17, 2016) is the Great American Smokeout.

Quitting smoking can have almost immediate benefits to your health. Only 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure drop and your circulation improves. The Great American Smokeout is an initiative of the American Cancer Society that encourages smokers to quit even for one day. A small success with one day of quitting can lead to a life free from tobacco addiction.

Timeline of the Benefits of Quitting:

  • 20 minutes: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months: circulation improves and lung function increases.
  • 1 to 9 months: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to clean the lungs and reduce infection.
  • 1 year: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by half
  • 5 years: Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
  • 10 years: The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Tools to Help You Quit Smoking

  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Quit smoking programs and support groups
  • Prescription drugs
  • Telephone and online based support and counseling

One free resource for residents is the Colorado QuitLine.  Call the Colorado QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or register at www.coquitline.org.

For more information about what Weld County is doing to address the issue of tobacco use and prevention, visit weldhealth.org or call 970-400-2385.