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You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Start with Day 1.
On Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, you can join thousands of people who will begin their smoke-free journey with the Great American Smokeout. This annual event from the American Cancer Society encourages smokers to make a plan to stop smoking.
To join Quitxt, text “iquit” (for English) or “lodejo” (for Spanish) to 844-332-2058.
“For the Great American Smokeout, we’re excited to share Quitxt to provide real-time help with motivation to quit, setting a quit date, handling stress, and much more, all on your phone,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Salud America! program at UT Health San Antonio, and also Quitxt, sponsored by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. “Quitting now can reduce your risk of chronic diseases, cancer, and a severe case of COVID-19.”
The Data: How Many People Are Smoking?
U.S. Cigarette smoking rates have declined from 42% in 1965 to 13.7% in 2019.
But over 32.4 million American adults still smoke cigarettes, according to the American Cancer Society. In South Texas, cigarette smoking rates are high among Mexican Americans, ranging up to 25.7%.
Certain groups suffer disproportionately from smoking-related diseases.
“These populations tend to be those who experience inequities in multiple areas of their lives, including those at lower socioeconomic levels, those without college degrees, American Indians/Alaska natives, African American/Black communities [and Latinos], LGBTQ communities, those in the military, those with behavioral health conditions, and others,” the American Cancer Society reports.
The Science: Smoking Is Unhealthy for You and Those around You
Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world.
Cigarette smoking causes an estimated U.S. 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. Smoking is the leading cause of cancer death, accounting for 29% of all cancer deaths. Also, more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.
“Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke,” according to the CDC.
Secondhand smoke exposure is linked to several types of cancers, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and more.
“There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” CDC reports.
Most Smokers Want to Quit Smoking, But it Isn’t Easy or the Same for Everyone
Nearly 70% of current U.S. adult smokers want to quit smoking, according to CDC data.
More than half of adult smokers made a quit attempt in the past year. Among youth who use tobacco, more than half report seriously thinking about quitting and report making a quit attempt in the past year.
For Latinos, Once they’ve started, they are more likely to keep smoking and only half as likely as whites to successfully quit smoking, according to recent study.
“Though Hispanic/Latino smokers have high motivation to quit, with concern for health effects on children and the family as a primary motivator, they mostly rely on themselves for cessation,” according to researchers. “[They have] little use of cessation medication and support services.”
This is why support is so critical to quitting.
“Giving up smoking is a journey, and it can be hard, but you can increase your chances of success with a good plan and support,” according to the American Cancer Society. “Getting help through counseling and medications doubles or even triples your chances of quitting successfully.”
“Quitting smoking is a process, and success may look different for different people.”
Try Quitting Smoking for the Great American Smokeout
The American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November for over 40 years.
The event aims to empower individuals, community groups, businesses, and health care providers to encourage people to use the date to make a plan to quit. Or plan in advance and start a smoking cessation plan on the day of the event.
“The Great American Smokeout event challenges people to stop smoking and helps people learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit,” according to its website.
The benefits of quitting smoking start right away.
In minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. In hours, you carbon monoxide levels return to normal. Also, in weeks, you circulation improves, and coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
In a year, your heart disease risk falls by half. A 2020 study even found a 90% drop in the risk of premature mortality for those who gave up smoking before turning 40 years old.
“Quitting smoking can save lives now, and in the years to come,” according to the American Heart Association. “Simply put, health policies should aim to prevent young people from smoking and should clearly communicate the benefits of quitting to those who do smoke, ideally as young as possible, and before the onset of serious illness.”
Get Help to Quit Smoking with Quitxt
Those who need help to quit smoking can simply turn on their phone.
Quitxt is a bilingual service from UT Health San Antonio and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas that sends messages via phone texts or Facebook Messenger chat to help South Texas adults quit smoking. Messages help with motivation to quit, setting a quit date, handling stress, and using nicotine replacement, if needed.
Join Quitxt in one of two ways:
- Text version: For English, text “iquit” to 844-332-2058. For Spanish, text “lodejo” to 844-332-2058.
- Facebook Messenger version: Go here and just hit “send message.”
Does Quitxt Really Work?
More than 1 in 5 Quitxt users fully quit smoking after completing the English version, according to 2017 data in the journal Health Promotion Practice.
The study also confirms that text and mobile-media service specifically designed for young adults provide a feasible and cost-effective approach to promote cessation, according to the researchers led by Dr. Ramirez at UT Health San Antonio.
“There’s no better time than now to stop smoking with help from Quitxt,” Ramirez said. “Quitting smoking is proven to improve your health, increase your life span, and save money.”