By Jacob Markey, LifeSmarts Summer 2010 intern LifeSmarts participants are coming back from winter vacation to find that this month’s topic area is Health and Safety. A critical health issue, for both adults and teens, is the danger of smoking cigarettes. There are indications that anti-smoking education is working to some extent. The percentage of Americans who smoke is much lower than it was in the past, and smoking bans in restaurants and bars are now in effect in at least 22 states. Yet, even though the surgeon general linked smoking with cancer back in 1964, millions of Americans continue to ignore the perils and smoke. While the effects of smoking are well-known, 21 percent of Americans still smoke and around 19 percent of teens still do. The prevalence of smokers puts millions of other Americans at the risk of secondhand smoke. The CDC lists statistics that show an estimated 440,000 people die each year from the effects of cigarette smoking. Smoking substantially increases your risk of other diseases like lung cancer, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Teens should be especially wary of smoking. In addition to serious health concerns, smoking can hurt your performance in the classroom and while playing sports, potentially injuring your ability to achieve great things in the future. The best way to avoid cigarettes is to make a commitment to never start. Health risks aside, quitting will also save you a ton of money. You could easily save $5-$10 per day. At $10/day, you would save over $3,000 a year! In these tough economic times, I’m sure we could all use $3,000 for something better than consuming a product that can kill us. Many smokers realize the negative impact smoking has on their lives and resolve to quit. Just by quitting, you can improve your health dramatically. For example, within one year of quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s. Unfortunately, quiting is extremely difficult to do. Even President Obama has had difficulty quitting smoking. Here are five good tips from the CDC:
- Don’t smoke any number or any kind of cigarette.
- Write down why you want to quit.
- Know that it will take effort to quit smoking.
- Half of all adult smokers have quit, so you can too.
- Get help if you need it. There are many others resources available online for help quitting, including smokefree.gov.