The Great American Smokeout
By Jim Martin, Health Promotion Program Coordinator, 82nd AMDS/Public Health Flight
/ Published October 31, 2017
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Quitting tobacco is the single best thing a person can do to improve his or her health. More than 480,000 Americans die every year from a smoking related illness – that is about 1,300 American deaths every single day. That’s more deaths each year than those caused by accidents, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes combined! More Americans die every year from tobacco than have died in combat during World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq combined! The fact is this – nothing has claimed more American lives than tobacco – NOTHING. With statistics like that, why do so many people continue to smoke? The answer is addiction! Nicotine, the primary active ingredient in tobacco, is addictive. It is the second most addictive substance on the planet. On the addiction scale, tobacco is tied with cocaine and just below heroin. It is this addiction that makes people afraid of quitting. People frequently want to quit but they just do not know if they can succeed.
Quitting is hard, but not impossible. Nearly 1.3 million people successfully quit every year. Many of those quitters are right here at Sheppard AFB. A master sergeant and his wife quit together this year and are saving $600 every month. A 65 year-old retired spouse quit this year after smoking for 45 years. A technical sergeant quit last year, became an avid bicyclist and recently raced in the Hotter’n Hell Hundred. These are just a few examples of the many people who made the decision to live healthier. Successful quitting has nothing to do with luck; it is simply a matter of planning and commitment. Anyone can do it, even you!
Christopher Columbus was offered dried tobacco leaves by Native Americans in the late 15th Century. This began a trend that would soar for over 500 years. The 1970's brought about the first changes in attitudes towards tobacco use in the United States. For the first time, people began to realize that tobacco was a dangerous addiction and not just a bad habit. Programs were being created across the country to warn of the dangers of cigarette smoking. Some of these campaigns encouraged smokers to quit for just one day. This practice soon evolved into an annual operation promoted by the American Cancer Society known as the Great American Smokeout.
This year, the Great American Smokeout will be on Thursday, November 16th. This is a day to start a new, healthier life. A day to start a life changing journey. A day to kick the habit - even if it is for just one day. The Health Promotion Team at the 82nd Medical Group offers many options to make quitting possible, even bearable. Contact the Health Promotion Department today at 567-4292 for more information. You can quit, we can help!