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November 05, 2007
The Great American Smokeout

If you're sick of footing the bill for rising health insurance costs due to smoking, and if your smoking employees are sick of spending a fortune on cigarettes, getting hassled by nonsmokers, and risking their health, it's time for them to quit. Thursday, November 15, is the Great American Smokeout--a day when people all across the country will snuff out their last cigarettes and take the first step on the road to a better, healthier life. So this is a great time to lend a hand to your smokers and help them kick the habit.

Give smokers some good reasons for quitting. There are still millions and millions of American smokers despite the research, warnings, and illnesses. Here are 10 good reasons you can give smokers for quitting. People who quit:

  • Feel healthier right away and are healthier for the rest of their lives, which will more likely be longer because they quit smoking.
  • Have more energy and better focus.
  • Enjoy a better sense of smell and taste.
  • Have whiter teeth and fresher breath.
  • Cough less and breathe better.
  • Lower their risk for cancer, heart attack, stroke, early death, cataracts, and wrinkling skin.
  • Feel more in control of their lives.
  • Save a bundle of money! (Ask smokers to calculate how much they've spent on cigarettes this year. Then ask them to think about how much money they've spent during all the years they've smoked. They'll realize all the things they could have done with all that money gone up in smoke!)
  • Won't have to worry about when they'll get their next smoke or what to do when they're in a smoke-free environment and can't smoke.
  • Will no longer be putting people they care about at risk of illness from secondhand smoke.

Prepare them for the ordeal. As anyone who has ever smoked knows, quitting isn't easy. For many smokers it's one of the toughest things they've ever done. But those who succeed in quitting are generally those who prepare well for quit day.

Why It Matters ...
  • There are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, and some of them are also in wood varnish, the insect poison DDT, arsenic, nail polish remover, and rat poison.
  • Smoking increases the risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke (millions of current smokers will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases, according to CDC).
  • Coughing, shortness of breath, and risk of bronchitis and emphysema are among other negative health effects of smoking.
  • Smoking also reduces resistance to colds and other illnesses.
  • Secondhand smoke puts nonsmokers (like friends and family) at risk of the same negative health effects that smokers experience.

Here are some other helpful tips for quitting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that you can share with your smokers:

  • The day you quit, throw away all your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. You'll still feel the urge to smoke, but it usually passes in 2 to 3 minutes. When you feel the urge, do something else. Take deep breaths and let them out slowly. Drink a glass of water. Carry things to put in your mouth, like gum, hard candy, or toothpicks. Keep busy: Take a walk, work out, go shopping, or call a friend. Go to places where you're not allowed to smoke, like the movies or the mall.
  • The first few days after you quit, don't hang around people who smoke or places where you used to smoke. Spend a lot of time in places where you're not allowed to smoke. Drink lots of water and fruit juice, but don't drink anything with caffeine in it, like soda, coffee, or tea.
  • After the first few days, the urges to smoke usually last for 1 to 2 weeks after you quit. So be prepared to fight them. Then, your body begins to forget about nicotine and you start feeling better. For some people--like heavy smokers--the urges may be tougher and last longer.

Offer a hand to those who aren't ready yet. Suggest to those who just can't commit yet to quitting that they take some steps in the right direction beginning on November 15. For example, they can:

  • Smoke less and put off smoking every cigarette.
  • Buy cigarettes by the pack, and keep switching brands.
  • Imagine that they're already nonsmokers and think about how nice that would be.
  • Remember that it's never too late to stop smoking.
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