One third of all cancer deaths can be blamed on tobacco.

The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is Thursday, November 16th. Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes. While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42% in 1965 to 15.1% in 2015), cigar, pipe, and hookah – other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco – are on the rise. There's no "safe" way to smoke tobacco. Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers. Quitting smoking before age 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%.


  1. Don’t keep it a secret. Include your friends and family in your quitting process; they can offer much-needed support.
  2. You’re not alone – Call 1-800-227-2345.
  3. Talk to your doctor. Before you begin, check with your doctor to see what might be the best approach for you. Quitting smoking is very personal. There isn’t one perfect method.
  4. Consider medication to help you quit. There are prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms or even help to reduce the urge to smoke.
  5. Avoid things that remind you about smoking. Clear the places where you usually smoke of anything that reminds you of cigarettes – like lighters, ashtrays, or matches. Ask other smokers not to smoke around you. Clean your house and car thoroughly to remove the smell of cigarettes.
  6. Avoid places where smokers gather.
  7. Stay calm and stay busy. You may feel some nervous energy but it can be countered by physical and mental activities. Take long strolls and deep breaths of fresh air, and find things to keep your hands busy, like crossword puzzles or yard work.
  8. When the urge to smoke strikes, do something else. If you feel a cigarette craving coming on, take a deep breath, count to 10, and then do something else. Call a supportive friend. Do brief exercises such as push-ups, walking up a flight of stairs, or touching your toes. Anything that will take your mind off your cravings.
  9. Don’t smoke even one cigarette – have light snacks and chewing gum on hand. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they only have one cigarette it’s okay. But even that one smoke can get you back in the habit. Keep a supply of healthy, light snacks like carrots, apples or raisins handy, or chewing gum can help.
  10. Drink water – avoid coffee and alcohol. Drink lots of fluids to help curb cravings. Water is the best for this. Coffee and alcohol may trigger your desire to smoke.

Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:

  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
  • 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
  • 5 years after quitting: Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.
  • 10 years after quitting: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting: Your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

For help quitting smoking, call the American Cancer Society’s National Cancer Information Center, 24/7, 365 days a year, at 1-800-227-2345. For more resources, see