Give yourself a great gift this holiday season

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Light up at your desk in at your work place, and you're probably violating a state law. Depending on your place of employment, you may have to leave the property to smoke. Some employers are even making non-smoker status a condition of employment.

Nebraskans pay 64 cents a pack in excise taxes on cigarettes, and it's illegal for underage people to buy or possess them -- there are already plenty of penalties on the books to discourage smokers for whom such measures will be effective.

But the American Cancer Society, in marking the 37th Great American Smokout today, cites plenty of numbers that should cause smokers to use today to plan to quit.

According to the Tobacco Atlas, published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, an estimated one billion people worlwide will die during the 21st century because of tobacco use.

"Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States," said Brian Ortner, Regional Director of Communications. "Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health and the Great American Smokeout is a great way to start."

Tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. In the U.S., tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths, or about 443,000 premature deaths each year, according to the ACS.

Smokers who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. In just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure drop, and in about 1 to 9 months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

According to the Tobacco Atlas:

* Cigarette smoking costs the United States more than $193 billion (i.e., $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures).

* In 2011, tobacco use killed almost 6 million people, with nearly 80 percent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

* An estimated 600,000 people die annually because of secondhand smoke.

The American Cancer Society has contributed more than $3.8 billion to cancer research, and claims that has helped save the lives of some 13.7 million people who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it as results of the effort.

This year, as you make plans for the holiday giving season, why not give yourself one of the greatest gifts possible and make a plan to quit smoking.

You can find out more at http://www.cancer.org/

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