Today is the Great American Smokeout, somewhat of a misnomer considering it is the day smokers are challenged to quit cold turkey.
According to information gathered by the American Cancer Society, the benefits of kicking the habit are immediate and ongoing:
When smokers quit - what are the benefits over time?
Twenty minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
Twelve hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
Two weeks to three months after quitting, your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
One to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the 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.
Five years after quitting, the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
Ten 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.
Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.
We'll add another reason to stop smoking: the cost. With the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in Ohio exceeding $4, a pack-a-day smoker spends at least $1,500 a year on the habit. Now, multiply that over five, 10 and 15 years.
This is one of those instances when quitters win.
For information on how to quit, visit www.cancer.org