10409139_10204270530271796_3309516832875511043_n[1]November is a great time to talk about quitting smoking, since it is Lung Cancer Awareness month. Having lost a grandfather to lung cancer who was a heavy smoker, I know the pain of seeing someone go through lung cancer.   While not all lung cancer is caused by smoking – and we will have more on that in this month’s Unconditionally Her magazine – the focus of this article IS on smoking and resources for those who do smoke and want to quit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over  7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke.  Hundreds are harmful, and about 70 can cause cancer. We know that smoking increases the risk for serious health problems, many diseases, and can also lead to death.  Many smokers I have met know the risks and want to quit smoking. The CDC says 7 out of 10 adult smokers in the United States reported wanting to quit smoking.

Instead of focusing on the risks, which most of us know, let’s talk about the health benefits of quitting.  Keep in mind, you are NEVER too old to quit!

Stopping smoking is associated with the following health benefits:

So what do you do if you want to quit and can’t?   Here is what research shows works (or what we public health professionals call “evidence-based practice”):

Medications that have been proven effective include those below.  It should be noted that using both counseling and medication together have been shown to be more effective than using either one alone.

A great place to start is with your doctor or healthcare provider or by calling your state quitline.    Anyone can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) if you want help quitting and get help for free. Callers will be directed to their state quitlines, which offer several types of quit information and services which may include:

Please make a step today towards quitting smoking, or share with a friend or loved one who may be struggling.   There are plenty of resources to help.    A nation-wide “smokeout” event where smokers put down their cigarettes for a day or longer – the Great American Smokeout takes place every third Thursday in November.  This year’s event is on November 17th.    The event is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and has been taking place since the 1970’s. The hope is that people who quit for a day, will continue on and stay quit.  For more great information on this event – and to learn more about its history, visit http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/greatamericansmokeout/history-of-the-great-american-smokeout.

To read more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about smoking cessation, visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/. You will find tips for quitting, additional resources, and great information on the new “it” thing – e-cigarettes and vaping, which may have health risks of their own. There are also CDC tobacco tweets and Facebook posts you can use to encourage friends and family who want to quit.

Whether you or your loved one choose November 17th or another day to put down cigarettes, you are to be commended for trying! The first step is taking that first step!