Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest Post: The Great American Smokeout (GASO) Part I by Megan Johnson, MSKW, CHES

The Great American Smokeout- GASO

Annually, on the third Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society (ACS) encourages smokers to use this date to either plan to set a quit date or plan to stop smoking on that day. This year, the date falls on November 21 and people across the United States will either quit, plan to quit, or encourage a loved one to quit.

“Everyone Loves a Quitter”

Quitting smoking is hard. It takes the average smoker multiple times before they successfully quit for good, according to the American Lung Association. With each attempt comes a better understanding of personal triggers to smoke and with the next attempt, the smoker is closer to quitting for good. Listed below are a couple of resources available to help a smoker with quitting:

•    American Cancer Society: Stay Away from Tobacco

•    American Lung Association: Freedom From Smoking

•    American Lung Association: Stop Smoking

• Talk to an Expert (Quit Lines)


What are the Benefits of Quitting? (ACS, 2013)

I am happy you asked! There are many benefits to quitting and they start within the first 20 minutes!

20 minutes after quitting

 Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
12 hours after quitting
The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2 wks-3 months after quitting
Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
1 to 9 months after quitting
Coughing and shortness of breath drops.
1 year after quitting
The risk heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
5 years after quitting
Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half.
Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
10 years after quitting
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 after quitting 

The risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.


What are the Benefits of Smoking?

There are ZERO benefits of smoking! Smoking cigarettes can cause harm to nearly every organ of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, smoking cigarettes can cause heart disease, stroke, cancer (lung, bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidney, larynx, mouth, pancreas, pharynx, stomach), aortic aneurysm, infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), lower bone density in post-menopausal women, increased risk for hip fracture, just to name a few.

Quick Facts (CDC, 2013)

  • 19% of all adults, 18 and older, were current smokers in 2010
  • It is estimated that each day, 4,000 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, with 1,000 becoming new daily cigarette smokers
  • Cigarette smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually, including deaths from secondhand smoke exposure
  • Smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, on average
  • Approximately 69% of smokers want to quit completely
  • Approximately 52% of smokers attempted to quit in 2010.

If you are a smoker:
Set a quit date or plan to quit on Thursday, November 21, 2013. This is your chance to start on the path of getting yourself healthier. Use the resources from the post, call a quit line, and talk to your loved ones and gain support from those around you! As you see, there are many more benefits to smoking than there are to continuing to smoke.

If you are a nonsmoker:
Support a quitter! Most importantly, understand that it is hard to quit and easy to relapse. No matter what, continue to be supportive of them towards becoming healthier.

What are your plans for the Great American Smokeout?

Be sure to stop by next week for Part 2 where Megan shares a Photovoice assignment from the class she is teaching.

Megan Johnson, MSKW, CHES, is a second-year Doctoral student in Health Studies at Texas Woman's University. After receiving the Williams Health Education Endowed Fellowship in Summer 2013, she began teaching an undergraduate course at TWU. She plans to continue on the path to becoming a Tenured Professor.


American Cancer Society. (2013). When smokers quit- What are the benefits over time?.

American Lung Association. (2009). Most smokers make multiple quit attempts before they quit
smoking for good. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Fast facts: Smoking & tobacco use.
Retrieved from

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