Today marks the 38th Great American Smokeout, an event held the third Thursday of November, that encourages smokers to use the date as an effort to quit smoking. Participants may choose to quit for the allotted 24 hours or — better yet — to use the date to kickstart a plan to stop smoking for good.
Leah Vintilla, a registered nurse specializing in informatics and health statistics at Palestine Regional Medical Center, said there are “so many benefits” to kicking the habit, which can have a detrimental effect on a person's “lungs, heart, and just all of the vital organs.”
“Many people quit smoking because it causes premature wrinkling of the skin, foul smelling clothes and hair, bad breath, yellowing teeth and fingernails, and can contribute to gum disease and tooth loss,” Vintilla said, adding that “while those are good reasons for people to quit smoking, the primary reason should be for improved health and longevity.”
According to the American Cancer Society, the creator of the annual event, the decision to quit smoking can add years to a person's life. In fact, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, with multiple studies attesting to the fact that the number one thing tobacco users can do to improve their health and extend their life is to quit.
Despite this, 43.8 million Americans continue to smoke cigarettes, nearly one-in-every-five adults.
The American Cancer Society reports that half of all smokers who keep smoking will end up dying from a smoking-related illness, a point that Vintilla also underscored.
“In the United States alone, smoking is responsible for nearly 1-in-5 deaths, and about 8.6 million people suffer from smoking-related lung and heart diseases,” she explained. “Among those devastating health effects, cancer, lung disease such as COPD, heart attacks, strokes and blood vessel diseases top the list.”