LANSING (WWJ) – Ready, set, QUIT!  Today, the American Cancer Society marks the 36th Great American Smokeout.

It’s a day to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and make today their final day of smoking. Vicki Rakowski, with the American Cancer Society Great Lakes Division, says they often hear people say they’ve been smoking so long that the damage has been done and it won’t matter if they quit.

But to that Rakowski says, “Not true. Your body can repair much of what it has been damaged by.”

Rakowski adds, “If you literally quit, within 20 minutes your blood pressure and heart rate would drop – that’s a good thing! One year after quitting, your excess risk of coronary heart disease is half of that of continuing smokers. Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker, meaning someone who never smoked.”

Linda Gerych was a pack-a-day smoker for years before she decided to quit. To help kick the habit, she says she wrote notes to herself, listing the benefits of quitting.

“I kept all those things on a little card in my pocket, so that when I wanted a cigarette I would go to my reminder list instead of going to a cigarette,” says Gerych.

However, she admits that it wasn’t easy to quit.

Her advice: “Try and solve it like a problem like you would in any area of life. You wouldn’t just say tomorrow the problem will go away. You will put forth energy in deciding on ways to deal with a problem and that’s what you need to do with this,” says Gerych.

The American Cancer Society says there are still 47-million smokers nationwide, with tobacco use responsible for one-in-five deaths. The smoking rate in Michigan is 18.9 percent, just under the national average of 20.6.

The American Cancer Society says the Great American Smokeout can be a starting point for some people to quit the habit.


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