LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Health Department reminds residents that the Great American Smokeout is on Thursday, Nov. 16. 

Despite an overall decrease in the number of smokers today, one out of five adults still smokes. The Great American Smokeout was started by the American Cancer Society in 1977 as a day to challenge smokers to quit smoking for 24 hours while increasing awareness of the dangers of smoking. 

The Great American Smokeout is held on the third Thursday of November every year. The idea behind it is that if a current smoker is successfully able to quit smoking for 24 hours, perhaps they can quit for 48 hours, for several days, months, or even quit for good.

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Dangers:

Smoking increases the risk for many types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung diseases, and other health effects.  Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, more than 70 of which are known to cause cancer.

Smoking does not just affect the health of the smoker, but can also affect the health of others via second hand smoke, even if the exposure to secondhand smoke is brief. Secondhand smoke can lead to ear infections and asthma attacks in children, and it can increase the risk of heart disease and cancer among adults.

Steady Improvements:

Within a few hours of stopping, a smoker’s health begins to improve. In approximately 12 hours, blood oxygen levels increase to normal and carbon monoxide levels drop. After just a few weeks, breathing and circulation improve.

Shortly after quitting, the sense of smell and taste will begin to improve as well. Improvements steadily increase; within approximately six months, the risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke will drop to almost half.

Within about a year, the risk for heart disease is reduced. After a few years of quitting, the risk of developing certain types of cancer is also reduced.

Help is Out There:

Quitting smoking is not easy, but there are many treatment options and support services that can offer help, such as counseling services, prescriptions, and over the counter treatments. 

Quitting for just one day on Nov. 16 may lead to a decision to quit smoking for good. Those considering quitting smoking should talk to their doctor, who can help them decide what method is right for them.  For more information about smoking, visit cancer.org or cdc.gov.