The CDC announced this week that, over the past three years, 1.8 million Americans were inspired to try to quit smoking and 104,000 have given up the dangerous habit for good, thanks — at least in part — to an aggressive national campaign initiated in 2014. And some people say that marketing is a waste of money? The educational, non-smoking crusade included public service announcements and ads that shared “Tips from Former Smokers.” Survey results were published on March 24, 2016 in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.
The ads featured various ways that people struggle with smoking-related health issues:
- Gum disease
- Premature birth
- Stroke caused by smoking combined with HIV.
About 80 percent of U.S. adult cigarette smokers who were surveyed reported that they had seen at least one television ad during the campaign. I’ve seen some of these PSAs. They are pretty crazy! Tips was the first federally funded anti-smoking media campaign, and is widely considered well worth the investment, since smoking-related diseases cost the United States more than $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion in direct health care costs and more than $156 billion in lost productivity. That’s a lot of lost money and productivity that’s going up in smoke!
“The Tips’ campaign is an important counter measure to the one million dollars that the tobacco industry spends each hour on cigarette advertising and promotion,” said Corinne Graffunder, Dr.P.H., director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The money spent in one year on Tips is less than the amount the tobacco industry spends on advertising and promotion in just three days.”
The most recent Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress revealed that cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, killing about 480,000 Americans each year. I guess I take pride in the fact that dogs don’t smoke. But, in all honesty, doing so would be difficult without opposable thumbs.
For every American who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more suffer at least one serious illness associated with first or secondhand smoke. And while the percentage of American adults who smoke is at the lowest level since the CDC began tracking such data, there are still an estimated 40 million adult smokers in the U.S.
Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Since life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers, quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%. Likely for these reasons, surveys show that 70 percent of all smokers have the desire to quit. I know I have the desire for them to quit! As a dog, I smell smoke on everything it touches, even more than my human companions.
The American Cancer Society reports that quitting completely at any age has significant health and lifestyle benefits:
- Within minutes of smoking the last cigarette, the body begins to recover:
- 20 minutes after quitting, heart rate and blood pressure drop.
- 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in blood drop to normal.
- Almost immediately after quitting:
- Food tastes better.
- Sense of smell returns to normal.
- Breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
- Teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
- Ordinary activities leave non-smokers less out of breath than their smoking peers.
- Minimizes the damaging effects of tobacco on appearance, including premature wrinkling of skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.
- Three weeks to nine months after quitting, circulation improves and lung function increases.
- Coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
- Cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
- One year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
- Heart attack risk drops dramatically.
- Five years after quitting, the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
- Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
- Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after two to five years
- 10 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.
- The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
- 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.
If you smoke and would like to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.cdc.gov/tips to view personal stories from the Tips’ campaign as well as detailed assistance developed by the National Cancer Institute to support smokers who are trying to quit. And I might add, if you don’t smoke, don’t start!
Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just where smoking is concerned. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.