The Great American Smokeout

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 43.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes – Nearly 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2010, there were also 13.2 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.2 million who smoke tobacco in pipes – other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers 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 towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

The health benefits of quitting start immediately from the moment of smoking cessation. Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

Check out how your body recovers after quitting:

  • 20 minutes – your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • 12 hours – the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
  • 2 weeks – 3 months – your circulation improves and your lung function increases
  • 1-9 months – coughing and shortness of breath decrease
  • 1 year – excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smokers
  • 2-5 years – stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smokers
  • 5 years – risk of cancer of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half
  • 10 years – risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a continuing smokers
  • 15 years – risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smokers

Information taken from American Cancer Society (

Reviewed by Tina Comston, M.Ed.