YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

Today is the Great American Smokeout: Do you need a reason to quit?

November 17, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog

Thursday is the Great American Smokeout, the day designated by the American Cancer Society to encourage people to quit smoking.

Don't have a plan in mind? No worries, the website has tons of info, including why people should quit, why it may be hard to quit, how to quit, and the health benefits of quitting.

Those health benefits can start immediately, according to the site, which offers statistics from various surgeons general reports. A mere 20  minutes after quitting, heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours the body's carbon monoxide level goes back to normal, and from two weeks to three months circulation and lung function improve. After a year free from smoking, the extra risk of developing coronary heart disease drops to half the risk of someone who is still smoking.

Recent studies have shed some light on smoking cessation. One, in the journal Addiction in 2009, found that if parents quit smoking early, their kids who also smoke have a better chance of quitting themselves.

The study participants included 991 people who, at age 17, were smoking at least weekly and whose parents were regular smokers. Of those teens who smoked daily at age 17, having their parents quit by the time the kids were 8 years old was linked with a 1.7-times higher odds of those kids quitting by age 28, compared to kids whose parents didn't quit. Similar numbers were found for teens who smoked weekly at age 17.

New technology is being incorporated into more smoking cessation programs, and it may hold some promise. A 2011 study in the journal the Lancet looked at the effectiveness of a cellphone texting program to help people quit.

In the UK-based study, 2,915 smokers were randomly assigned to the texting intervention program and 2,885 were part of a control group that received texts not related to quitting smoking. The stop-smoking texts included motivational messages and supportive messages about behavior change.

Those in the stop-smoking text group had higher continuous quitting rates compared to the control group: 10.7% compared to 4.9%.

In other tobacco-related news, a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finds that while most smokers want to quit, very few do. And if you keep tabs on public smoking laws, the British Medical Assn.'s Board of Science has recommended UK governments ban smoking in private vehicles to achieve a smoke-free society by 2035.

The Smokeout site also offers some handy tools that may help you quit, including desktop helpers like a countdown clock you can download to your computer. There are also employee toolkits, quitting cards (you're supposed to hand them out to people to let them know how to help you stay smoke-free) and printable labels that read, "Go easy on me. I'm quitting smoking."

Los Angeles Times Articles