Be a quitter: Great American Smokeout today

As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society marks the 37th Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 15, by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit.

An estimated one billion people worldwide will die during the 21st century because of tobacco use, according to The Tobacco Atlas, published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation.

The American Cancer Society provides tips and tools online to help smokers quit tobacco for good.

“Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States,” said Patrice Lestrange Bedrosian, director of communications, American Cancer Society. “Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health and the Great American Smokeout is a great way to start.”

Tobacco use accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths and 80% of lung cancer deaths. In the U.S., tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths, or about 443,000 premature deaths each year.

Smokers who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. In just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure drop, and in about one to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for and held its first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day. One million people quit smoking for a day at the 1976 event in California.

The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to quit smoking for good.

Find tips and tools online at cancer.org to help quit smoking for good.

Fast facts

From The Tobacco Atlas, Fourth Edition, newly published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation:

• Cigarette smoking costs the United States more than $193 billion (i.e., $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures).

• In 2011, tobacco use killed almost six million people, with nearly 80% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

• An estimated 600,000 people die annually because of secondhand smoke.

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