The American Cancer Society is marking the 37th Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 15 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. Our bank offers smoking cessation programs as well as a Wellness Action Team for employees, and the Great American Smokeout is a good opportunity to learn more about steps that lead to healthier lives and reduced risk of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society:
- Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US.
- More than 45 million Americans still smoke cigarettes.
- More than half of these smokers have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year.
- As of 2010, there were 13.2 million cigar smokers in the U.S., and 2.2 million who smoke tobacco in pipes.
- Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success if you seek help.
Ask my colleague Sandy – she sought help and now officially calls herself “tobacco-free.” I’ve been inspired by her and asked if I could share her story.
Sandy started a six-month smoking cessation program, “Get Quit – Stay Quit” through a local healthcare organization. September 5 was the last day she smoked a cigarette.
“Making it through the first 15 days was the hardest part,” she said. “But with the support of the others in my class, I was able to do it.”
Sandy — who smoked for 15 years, quit, started again and then smoked for another 15 years– saw amazing results almost immediately after giving up cigarettes.
During the program, participants have their carbon-monoxide level tested weekly. It didn’t take Sandy long to see a shift – her carbon monoxide level is two (anything under a five and you’re considered a non-smoker) and her lung function improved from 79% to 86% and should continue to improve as the months go on.
“I still have my moments and I know what sparks them; however, quitting is a choice that I have committed myself to. I regret making the wrong choice many years ago to use tobacco and I have to accept responsibility for my choice. I know it will be a life-time commitment, but with the help of the smoking cessation counselors, friends and family, I know I will achieve it.”
Sandy is feeling so good about things that she recently signed up to participate in Susquehanna’s Walking Works program, which encourages employees to walk regularly for exercise and keep track of their distance.
“The walking program could not have occurred at a better time for me! I am enjoying it and I’m feeling great,” she said.
This year, Sandy has a great deal to celebrate on November 15 – she will officially be a non-smoker (something she has to keep reminding herself) for over two months.
Sandy said her goals are to stay positive, know her trigger point, continue with a support group and never ever use tobacco again. She was excited to share her story with the hope that it would help others embarking on their journey to quit smoking.
“Keeping ‘quit’ is an ongoing challenge for any person who’s smoked…but I am determined to stick with it,” she said. “One of the keys of success are my 10 fellow classmates who have committed to meeting weekly and keeping our support group going. Honestly a support group is a must.”
What do you plan to do on November 15? If you’re a non-smoker, why not support a friend or family member in their quest to quit? If you are a smoker, you have three choices: ignore it; quit for the day or consider “throwing in the towel,” and quit completely.
You know what Sandy would recommend.
For more information about the Great American Smokeout, or for tips and tools to quit for good, click here.
Sandy wanted to be sure to share the following facts:
Seven Facts about Smoking & Quitting:
• Nicotine is addicting
• Smoking is a habit
• Smokers use nicotine to control their moods
• Quitting smoking can be hard
• People do quit smoking
• Quitting smoking is a long-term process
• Quitting smoking improves your health & quality of life
The Stages of Quitting: