Great American Smokeout is Thursday, Nov. 21, featuring supportive characters to share on social media and a Twitter chat

The American Cancer Society‘s annual Great American Smokeout will be held Thursday, Nov. 21. The event encourages smokers to quit smoking, or make a plan to quit smoking, that day.

Quitting, even for one day, according to the Cancer Society, is an important step toward a healthier life, one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

In Kentucky, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.2 percent of adults are cigarette smokers, second highest in the nation. The Kentucky Tobacco and Cessation Program reports that each year more than 8,000 Kentuckians die of illnesses caused by tobacco use.

“Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., yet nearly one in every five adults smoke,” the Cancer Society says. It also notes that there are 13.2 million cigar smokers in the U.S. and 2.2 million who smoke tobacco in pipes, which are also dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

To celebrate quitters and their supporters, the American Cancer Society has designed a series of characters available to share on social networks. (See characters.)

They are also hosting, with Sharecare, a Great American Smokeout Twitter Chat on Wed., Nov. 20. This event allows you to post questions on Twitter to  @Sharecarenow  about how to quit smoking, smoking legislation or anything on your mind related to smoking.  You can also submit questions on Sharecare’s Facebook page.  The answers from the Cancer Society and other experts will roll out on Twitter at #quitforgood on Thurs., Nov. 21, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The health benefits of quitting are greater if you quit when you are young, but quitting at any age is beneficial. The Cancer Society lists the benefits chronologically:

  • In 20 minutes: your heart rate and blood pressure drop
  • In 12 hours: the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal
  • 2 weeks to 3 months: your circulation improves and your lung function increases
  • 1-9 months: coughing and shortness of breath decrease
  • 1 year: your risk of coronary heart disease is cut to half that of a continuing smoker
  • 5 years: risk of certain cancers is cut in half, and stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker
  • 10 years: the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who still smokes and other cancer risk decrease
  • 15 years: the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker

The American Cancer Society is available to offer steps to quit smoking and to provide quit-smoking programs. To learn about the available tools, call 1-800-227-2345.

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