Great American Smokeout a good time to quit

Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 encourages participation in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 21.

Each November smokers make the decision to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — a bit under 1 in every 5 adults nationally and locally in Sheboygan County.

The economic costs of tobacco use in Wisconsin are overwhelming. Smoking- attributable health care costs from tobacco use in Wisconsin are approximately $2.8 billion paid in direct health care costs and $1.7 billion dollars lost in productivity. Collectively, more than 7,700 Wisconsin deaths are associated with tobacco use each year.

Learning how to quit smoking may seem daunting. In fact, it’s a journey with twists, turns, rewards and surprises. Every journey begins with one step. And for many people, that first step is quitting for one day, followed by another, then another.

You can explore quitting during the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout with the support of others around the nation. The idea is to quit smoking on that day and begin to enjoy the rewards of a lifetime of smoke-free living.

Quitting smoking is an important step toward a healthier life.

Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette your heart rate and blood pressure drop. The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal after 12 hours of not smoking. Circulation improves and lung function increases after just 2 weeks.

Those who quit report coughing and shortness of breath decrease as the cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs between 1and 9 months. And by the first year anniversary of a successful quit date, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker.

After 2 to 5 years being tobacco free, cancer risk is reduced and by 10 years of tobacco-free living the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person still smoking. The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker after 15 years of smoke-free living.

To learn more, call 1- 800-QUIT-NOW or

Cath Pape is re:TH!INK Lakeshore Tobacco prevention coordinator and member of the HSC2020 AODA committee.