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Celebrate the Great American Smokeout

November 10, 2009

Olivia Rossi, RN, MSN, ACSM
Your Personal Trainer:

The Great American Smokeout—Thursday, November 19:  A Day to Start to Stop Smoking—For you, a friend or a family member—This is the day.

Each year, the American Cancer Society holds the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November.  This year’s date is November 19th.   Help yourself, help a friend, help someone in your family to take the first step.  Make Thursday, November 19th, a day to stop smoking for one day.  Make it the day to start to stop and to keep that pledge for each day following, one day at a time, for life—for your life.

Stop and take a breath, a breath of fresh air, a breath of life.  Do it for your heart.  Do it for your lungs.  Do it for you.  Every breath you take delivers life-giving oxygen to your lungs, to your heart and to every cell of your body.  When you smoke, nicotine in cigarettes increases your heart rate and your blood pressure.  It causes your heart work harder.  It makes it beg for oxygen.  At the same time, carbon monoxide, another ingredient in cigarette smoke, deprives red blood cells of oxygen.  Every breath you take with a cigarette in your mouth causes your coronary arteries to narrow because of nicotine while concurrently causing less oxygen to be delivered to your heart muscle.  That’s because carbon monoxide has priority seating on red blood cells.  It deprives your heart of its primary source of fuel—oxygen.

Smoking is the number one risk factor for coronary artery disease.  Did you know that if you smoke your first cigarette within 30-minutes of waking up it’s because you are so addicted that you are having withdrawal symptoms during your sleep?  Your number one goal should therefore be to extend that 30-minutes to an hour or longer. Try 24-hours.  Take the first step.  Be good to you.  Spend a day not smoking.  Make that day November 19, the Great American Smokeout.  Stop and think about every breath you take.  Each one is precious.  When that breath is filtered through a cigarette, it is devastating, debilitating and deadly.  Parents, tell your children not to start.  Children, tell your parents to stop.  Start with one day.  Help them to prepare for the Great American Smokeout.

Take a day out for you.  Help a friend.  Help a family member. Help someone quit.  Plan for it.  Make it your day to start to stop.  Take a breath and think about how it feels.  Fill your lungs¸ your heart, every cell of your body with the breath of life.  Leave behind the breath of death.  Snuff it out.  Leave it in the ash tray.  Better yet, don’t light it.  Try it for a day, one day at a time, for life—for your life.

For more information on the difficult task of quitting, there are many resources available.  You can get help from friends, family and smoking cessation programs.  There are nicotine replacements and medications such as Zyban and Chantix.  Talk to your doctor and check with local hospitals.  Many of them have smoking cessation programs.  Call the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association at 1-800-AHA-USA1, or the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA.  Some Government Resources include 1-800-QUIT-NOW and

Remember, it doesn’t matter how addicted you are or how long you have smoked, you can stop smoking!  Stay strong, stick with it and get whatever support you need.

Sources:  American Cancer Society.
The Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Addiction

Yours in fitness,
Olivia C. Rossi, RN, MSN
Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, ACSM
Certified Personal Trainer, ACSM

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Discuss this article

Kay November 10, 2009

Olivia, does smoking marijuana cause the same health problems as nicotine in cigartette smoking? If so, I think a lot of young kids need to hear that message as well. Otherwise the smokeout is seen as an “adult” event.

Marie November 10, 2009

Thank you Olivia. As a daughter who had to watch her father die from Lung Cancer, I can say first hand, we appreciate your bringing this once again to the attention of the Oregon readers.

Mimi November 10, 2009

I appreciate your approach to reducing (or, better yet, eliminating) smoking in the USA. Education is better than legislation.

Dona November 10, 2009

I have a friend who is a “closet somker.” I was very surprised when I found out they smoked. I think this is a great opportunity for me to buddy up with them to support them quiting.

Marie S. November 10, 2009

Great information and worth passing on. Thanks.

April November 10, 2009

Can I still smoke during the Great American Smokeout? (LOL.)

Olivia November 10, 2009

Kay, Marijuana has its own set of health problems. Perhaps there should be a Great American “Pot-Out!” some of the harmful effects of marijuana include impaired thinking, mood and coordination. “Long term use causes the brain to stop production of brain chemicals necessary to “feel good” – a negative feedback condition. The user becomes chemicaly addicted to marijuana.” Specific effects on the heart include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. There are also harmful effects on the reproductive system in males and females that include a decrease in sperm count…damage to the eggs and alteration of hormone levels. Like cigarettes, the smoke of marijuana irritates the membranes of the esophagus and increases the chances of developing cancer of the larynx and esophagus. In both cases, it’s a matter of “smoke inhalation.” The effects in the lungs include damage and destruction of the air sacs of the lungs and can lead to Emphysema.
“Marijuana smoke has twice as much “tar” as cigarette smoke and significantly increases the chance of lung cancer, inflammation and infection” (Narconon Southern California) Any type of smoke inhalation is contrary to the health of our bodies. It’s sad to think that we would have to separate the Great American Smokeout by age. Smokers are a dying breed. Most of them are old by kids’ standards but they started young, too.

Kay November 11, 2009

I’m going to print off your information and be sure to pass it along to other parents. With the legalization of marijuana movement there is a lot of “doesn’t do as much damage as…” misinformation out there. This will be a clear and concise way to let the kids know how much damage it can do. Thanks!

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