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Quit Smoking Great American Smokeout Health Risk Benefits Help

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Last updated 02/13/2022

It has been over 40 years now since the American Cancer Society hosted the first Great American Smokeout. This takes place on the third Thursday of November. The event encourages people to quit smoking.

The American Cancer Society gives smokers the opportunity by taking this day to begin your journey. Further the Great American Smokeout event is a way to challenge you to stop smoking. Above all you don’t have to quit in one day (likely impossible) just take that first step.

Currently the event is celebrated with rallies and parades. In addition there is information to learn of various tools to use to achieve staying smoke-free. Most importantly there is support to help you with this goal.

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History of the Great American Smokeout

According to the American Cancer Society the idea for the event grew from a 1970 request in Randolph, Massachusetts. There Arthur P. Mullaney had posed people to not smoke for a day. But to donate this money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.

Four years later, Lynn R. Smith editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, fashioned something similar. He founded the state’s first D-Day or Don’t Smoke Day. In short two great ideas and only the beginning.

The idea caught on like wildfire. Because the American Cancer Society in California got almost 1 million people to quit smoking on November 18, 1976. Therefore establishing the first official Smokeout. In conclusion the American Cancer Society took the event nationwide in 1977.

Today you have seen dramatic changes in the way the public observes tobacco advertising and its use. Many public places and work areas these days have become smoke-free. Most importantly protecting those non-smokers and supporting smokers who want to quit.

Smoking Facts

Rates for cigarette smoking have dropped still around 37.8 million Americans smoke. According to the American Cancer Society about half of all American smokers, this will be their cause of death. Further over 480,000 people in the United States alone die from illnesses because of smoking.

    Smoking leads to cancers including:

  • Larynx (voice box)
  • Mouth
  • Sinuses
  • Pharynx (throat)
  • Esophagus
  • Bladder

As well as being linked to developing cancers:

  • Pancreas
  • Cervix
  • Ovary (mucinous)
  • Colon, rectum
  • Kidney
  • Stomach

Quit Smoking is Hard

So you want to quit but don’t know where to start. Maybe you have attempted to quit but gave in. Above all there is help and advice to get you going.

It is said to be one of the strongest and most deadly addictions you can have. Thus it requires commitment and a plan.

Tobacco addiction is mental as well as physical.

Usually more than one attempt is needed. Your trying to quit smoking also demands a lot of support. In short the younger you started smoking the more intense your addiction.

         Groups most affected by using tobacco are:

  • Adults living in rural areas
  • Adults who are residents of tobacco growing states
  • Military veterans
  • Lesbian/gay/bisexual adults (LGB)
  • Adults that didn’t graduate from high school
  • Americans earning less than $20,000 a year
  • Uninsured Americans
  • American Indians/Alaskan Natives
  • Americans having mental or behavioral health issues
  • Adults living in public housing

Quit Smoking Benefits for Your Health

Younger Looking Skin

When you stop smoking it slows facial aging and the appearance of wrinkles. As a non-smoker your skin absorbs more nutrients and oxygen. Further by not smoking the sallow, lined complexion smokers usually have can be reversed.

For Whiter Teeth and Fresher Breath

Your teeth won’t be as stained because you stopped using tobacco. Plus you’ll have fresher breath. In addition your risk for gum disease and prematurely losing your teeth is reduced.

Improves Smell and Taste

Without smoking your senses of smell and taste are better. You may notice this through food tasting and smelling different. Most importantly your mouth and nose are recovering after being damaged by the hundreds of toxic chemicals contained in cigarettes.

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Breathe Easier

By quitting your lung capacity improves. The coughing will be less and breathe easier. Further those tiny hairs in your lungs (cilia) begin to grow back. Above all they are responsible to clean out your lungs and reduce infections.

If you are in your 20s and 30s this probably isn’t noticeable unless you are physically active. However with age your lung capacity naturally diminishes.

This will be important in later years as it can affect your quality of life. In other words you could have a healthy, active old age or be wheezing while you walk or climb the stairs.

Get More Energy

About 2 to 12 weeks after quitting your blood circulation improves. So physical activity like walking and running is easier.

This in turn will boost your immune system. It will help to fight off colds and flu. In short the increase in oxygen in your body can decrease tiredness and headaches as well.

Feel Less Stress

Having withdrawal symptoms between cigarettes can increase your stress levels. Withdrawal can feel like other stressors making it easy to confuse regular stress from the nicotine withdrawal. In conclusion it can feel like smoking is relieving other stressors.

However this is not true. Studies in fact have shown people’s stress levels are reduced after they quit smoking. To sum up there are healthier and better ways to deal with your stress.

Live Longer

You have seen or heard the numbers. Long term smokers die young from smoking related diseases such as heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. That is to say it’s never too late to stop smoking and enjoy the benefits.

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Protect Love Ones

When you stop smoking you are protecting the health of others around you. These are the non-smokers including friends and family. Non-smokers inhale secondhand smoke which raises their chances of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

With children this doubles the risk for getting chest sicknesses like pneumonia, wheezing and asthma. Furthermore, they have 3 times the risk for lung cancer later in life versus children living with non-smokers.

What Happens to Your Body After You Stop Smoking?

Pulse and Blood Pressure

Within about 20 minutes after your last cigarette your heart rate and blood pressure usually are normal. No one wants to have high blood pressure. So that’s good, high blood pressure is called “the silent killer” due to its dangerous effects typically having no symptoms.

Having a quicker pulse is difficult on your heart. In short this can lead to fatigue, dizziness, chest pain and breathing problems.

Carbon Monoxide

As a smoker you have 3 to 15 times more carbon monoxide in your blood compared to a non-smoker. When this is high you could have a headache, faster pulse, dizziness or nausea. As a result after 12 hours that level drops to normal.

That provides room for additional oxygen in your red blood cells. Most importantly these supply your heart, brain and other organs.

Heart Attack Risk

The top cause for heart attacks is smoking. Your risk drops after the first 24 hours without cigarettes and continues to do so. Above all if you have already suffered a heart attack and stop smoking you decrease your chances for another one by half.

Bronchial Tubes

Cigarette smoke inflames your bronchial tubes. These are tunnels where air travels in and out of your lungs. In other words this makes it difficult to breathe.

But it starts to improve only 72 hours once you stop because the tubes begin to relax. Thus you could notice a boost of energy.

Blood Circulation

Your blood circulation should begin to improve right away. But after a couple weeks this is more noticeable. In addition being able to feel sensations easier as well as your hands and feet will be warmer.

Good circulation is also connected to normal blood pressure, pulse and blood-oxygen levels.

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Heart Health

After a year your risk for both heart disease and heart attack drops. Most importantly the dramatic effect this has on your heart health.


By quitting smoking you decrease your risk for certain cancers. Beyond five years your risk of these cancers will be cut in half compared to when you smoked. Therefore your risk of cervical cancer will be that of someone who doesn’t smoke.


Smoking is a major cause of strokes. As it speeds up the formation of blood clots. But in less than five years once you quit your risk of stroke can be the same as a non-smoker.

Lung Cancer

It takes around 10 years to decrease your risk for lung cancer to half that of a smoker. In addition your chance for cancer of the larynx and pancreas also takes this long to reduce.

Heart Disease

About 15 years after stopping you can really celebrate. You’ve made great strides in reversing the damage that smoking caused. As a result your risk of both heart disease and heart attack has greatly decreased.

Wrapping it up

The American Cancer Society started this event 40 years ago. It is the opportunity to educate yourself and others on the dangers and risk that come with smoking. Thus smoking is an addictive habit destroying your health.

If you are a smoker improve your quality of life and live longer. You can do this! Further there are many tools to help you quit successfully. Most importantly make the first step to better health during this Great American Smokeout.


Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

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