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National initiative encourages smokers to stop for 24 hours

The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to quit for a day during its Great American Smokeout, which is a national initiative to get people to start a journey.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — ABC24 is all about keeping you healthy. November is Lung Cancer Awareness month and Thursday, the American Cancer Society is encouraging those who smoke to quit for 24 hours during its Great American Smokeout, which is a national initiative to get people to start their journey toward a smoke-free life. 

According to Methodist Hospital, Oncologist Doctor Samuel Riney, lung cancer causes more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined.

80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to smoking, which equals more than 130,000 people who have died of lung cancer in 2022.

If you are looking to quit smoking, Riney said the desire has to start with you. 

He recommends that those who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day should get screened and consult with their primary care physician on the different and safe alternatives that are available.

Riney said you have to do what works best for you. 

One method includes starting out by smoking fewer cigarettes per day and continuing to work your way down.

There are also nicotine replacements, like patches, lozenges, and gums, which can help with nicotine cravings. Prescription medicines are also available from your primary care physician.

We asked about vaping and Dr. Riney said it really is not the healthiest option and there are risks.

“Tobacco contains many chemicals. Over 7,000 chemicals, and in most tobacco products, there’s 70 or so that is associated with being carcinogens, which are chemicals that are known to lead to the development of cancer,” Riney explained.

He added that the aerosol smoke from vape devices has been shown to contain many of those chemicals as well.

“Things like arsenic, lead, and mercury can be found in not only tobacco, but the aerosol smoke from vape devices,” Riney said.

There are many great benefits to quitting.

“Your heart rate and blood pressure will generally improve within those first 24 hours. The levels of carbon monoxide in the blood,” Riney said. “Which is something that you don’t want to be there typically will start to decrease and then those health improvements continue on. Within a few weeks, people’s circulation starts to improve.”

Methodist Hospital provides services, which can be arranged through your primary care physician and the hospital system.

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