The Great American Smokeout
Thursday, November 21: A Day to Start to Stop Smoking—For you, a friend or a family member—This is the day.
Each year, the American Cancer Society holds the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. This year’s date is November 21st. Help yourself, help a friend, help someone in your family to take the first step. Make Thursday, November 21st, a day to stop smoking for one day. Make it the day to start to stop and to keep that pledge for each day following, one day at a time, for life—for your life.
Stop and take a breath, a breath of fresh air, a breath of life. Do it for your heart. Do it for your lungs. Do it for you. Every breath you take delivers life-giving oxygen to your lungs, to your heart and to every cell of your body. When you smoke, nicotine in cigarettes increases your heart rate and your blood pressure. It causes your heart to work harder. It makes it beg for oxygen. At the same time, carbon monoxide, another ingredient in cigarette smoke, deprives red blood cells of oxygen. Every breath you take with a cigarette in your mouth causes your coronary arteries, your heart muscle’s very own blood supply, to narrow because of nicotine at the very same time there is less oxygen being delivered to your heart muscle. That’s because carbon monoxide has priority seating on red blood cells. It deprives your heart of its primary source of fuel—oxygen.
Smoking is the number one risk factor for coronary artery disease. Did you know that if you smoke your first cigarette within 30-minutes of waking up it’s because you are so addicted that you are having withdrawal symptoms during your sleep? Your number one goal should therefore be to extend 30-minutes to 40-minutes, or 50-minutes or an hour. Try 24-hours. Take the first step. Be good to you. Spend one day not smoking. Make that day November 21st, the Great American Smokeout. Stop and think about every breath you take. Each one is precious. When that breath is filtered through a cigarette, it is devastating, debilitating and deadly. Parents, tell your children not to start. Children, tell your parents to stop. Start with one day. Help them to prepare for the Great American Smokeout.
Take a day out for you. Help a friend. Help a family member. Help someone quit. Plan for it. Make it your day to start to stop. Take a breath and think about how it feels. Fill your lungs, your heart and each cell of your body with the breath of life. Leave behind the breath of death. Snuff it out. Leave it in the ashtray. Better yet, don’t light it. Try it for a day, one day at a time, for life—for your life.
For more information on the difficult task of quitting, there are many resources available. You can get help from friends, family and smoking cessation programs. There are nicotine replacements and medications such as Zyban and Chantix. Talk to your doctor and check with your hospital. Here at Adventist Health call 503-261-6661 for information on Stop Smoking Programs. Call the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association at 1-800-AHA-USA1, or the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA. Some Government Resources include 1-800-QUIT-NOW and Smokefree.gov.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how addicted you are or how long you have smoked, you can stop smoking, one day at a time. Stay strong, stick with it and get whatever support you need. Start to stop on November 21st and keep going, one day at a time.
Yours in fitness,
Olivia C. Rossi, RN, MSN
Cardiac Rehabilitation, Adventist Health, Portland, Oregon
Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, ACSM
Certified Personal Trainer, ACSM
Sources: American Cancer Society
The Fagerstrom Scale for Nicotine Addiction