It's no surprise smoking tobacco isn't a healthy habit. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year (about one in five deaths). And now, a new study led by ACS researchers found the number of U.S. adults who were working toward quitting smoking seriously declined immediately after the onset of COVID-19 and persisted for over a year.
Those findings become even more concerning upon learning that declines in attempts to quit smoking were largest among people who experienced disproportionately negative outcomes during COVID-19.
"Tobacco is the number one, preventable cause of cancer and is responsible for up to one-third of all cancer deaths," said Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), ACS's advocacy affiliate. "We know quitting tobacco isn't easy, so we must do everything in our power to ensure individuals trying to quit have access to the cessation services they need. By ensuring Medicaid programs cover all FDA-approved cessation treatments and services in every state and that state tobacco prevention and cessation programs are adequately funded, we can help more people quit and help reduce cancer disparities driven by this deadly product."
ACS acknowledges that quitting smoking is difficult and offers some tips for making a plan to quit:
Make the decision to quit. While quitting isn't the same process for everyone, start by considering your "why" and even writing the reason(s) down as a reminder.
- Choose your Quit Day. This is a vital part of the plan. By choosing a date less than a month away (so there's less time to change your mind), your Quit Day will be an empowering milestone in your personal commitment to a healthier life. Circle it on your calendar!
- Consider how you plan to quit. Nicotine replacement therapy, prescription drugs, and other methods are available and are helpful for quitting cigarettes. Research each method to see what suits you best, and consult your doctor or dentist for insight. Your insurance may also cover some quit aids or programs.
- Support is key. Tell the people in your life about your plan! Also, seek out additional help such as in-person support groups, reminders on your phone, trusted health care professionals, etc. ACS emphasizes that combining two or more types of quit aids may be more effective than the use of just one.
While quitting smoking is far from simple for the majority of smokers, that doesn't mean it isn't possible.
American Cancer Society's annual Great American Smokeout takes place November 17, 2022 and is an event encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. More resources can be found at cancer.org.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in the Oct/Nov '22 issue of West Michigan Woman.