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Great American Smokeout offers opportunity to make a change

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski
  • 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
Every November, the American Cancer Society uses the third Thursday of the month to encourage tobacco users to quit in a campaign called the Great American Smokeout. This event raises awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and challenges tobacco users to quit for one day in hopes it will show them that they can quit long-term.

"It's a day for individuals to give up tobacco use for at least for one day, if not for good," said Alan Muriera, 460th Medical Group health educator. "We are trying to initiate people to quit smoking on this day."

According to the American Cancer Society, the benefits of quitting smoking begin just 20 minutes after the last cigarette when heart rate and blood pressure begin to drop. Two weeks to three months after quitting, blood circulation improves and lung function increases. One year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker. Five years after quitting, risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after two to five years.

Quitting smoking can be very difficult. As explained by Muriera, who quit smoking himself, says that individuals need to be ready to quit first and foremost.

"It takes will power," Muriera said. "A lot of it is psychological. You need to retrain the brain. We weren't born smoking, we trained ourselves to use the product."

Muriera believes that by Airmen helping other Airmen out who need assistance quitting tobacco use, it creates stronger social bonds within units and improves Airmen resiliency because an Airman who doesn't use tobacco is that much healthier and ready to execute the mission.