Today is the 37th annual Great American Smokeout – always the third Thursday in November. It’s a one-day campaign to encourage smokers to quit for 24 hours to prove that they can do it.

Last year, nearly 20 million smokers tried to quit for the day…that’s about 40 percent of the nation’s 50 million plus smokers.

Breast cancer used to be the biggest killer of women. But now, the number one cause of cancer deaths among women and men today is lung cancer. An estimated 158,000 people die of lung cancer each year in the United States, and when you include all smoking-related diseases like emphysema, chronic bronchitis and heart disease, that figure rises to 400,000 each year. That’s more than the number of Americans who died in World War II and nine times as many people who die in traffic accidents every year.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., but about 43.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes -- nearly one in every five adults.

What about second-hand smoke? Non-smokers are affected by exposure to other people’s smoking. Studies reveal that children of smokers are more prone to lung problems and allergies than the children of non-smokers. And they’re more inclined to start smoking themselves.

How does your body begin to recover when you quit?

  • After 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops to normal
  • In as little as 2 weeks, your circulation improves and lung function improves
  • In as little as a month, coughing and shortness of breath decrease
  • In one year, the risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.

Quitting cold-turkey is the hardest way to quit, but the most effective and in the long run, the easiest way.