Dr. Taz MD, Solutions for Living Healthy Naturally: The Great American Smoke-Out

No, it is not a barbeque competition. On the third Thursday of every November since 1976, smokers have been using this day to quit or make a plan to quit. Since the first smoke-out, we have come a long way in educating about the risks of smoking and protecting nonsmokers from secondhand-smoke. Since 1965, smoking in adults in America has gone from 46% of the population to 20% [1]. We all know smoking causes cancer. In fact, it causes 1 out of every 3 cancer cases [1]. Smoking also causes cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and infertility [2]. There are plenty of ads and commercials telling us the risks of smoking, and if you are a smoker you may be thinking that it is too late for you. Your body can heal from the damage of smoking. This infographic shows how quickly your body responds to quitting.

Quitting is difficult but it does have many rewards. Besides the obvious benefits of reducing risk for cancers and diseases of the heart and lungs, quitting gives you more energy, better skin, better sense of smell and taste, and it benefits your immune system [3]. Smoking can also cause depression, ulcers, cataracts, gum disease and menstrual problems [4].

There are many ways to quit and not all of them are going to work for you. One of the most important things you can do is get support. You can quit with a friend, tell your friends you are quitting, call a quitting hotline or join a group. Then you have to actually stop smoking. Conventional methods include: going cold-turkey, using nicotine-replacement therapies like gum and patches or taking a prescription medication. Many smokers find success quitting with Ayurveda or acupuncture. In Ayurveda, smoking is a sign that the mind needs to be calmed. So in quitting, one must find new ways to handle stress. Ayurveda uses detoxification, yoga and exercise when quitting and recommends avoiding alcohol, sugar and coffee because they are usually strongly associated with smoking. Acupuncture often uses points on the ear to address nicotine addiction and research into the treatment has produced significant results [5]. Using acupuncture as a quitting tool does require multiple visits to an acupuncturist for the first couple of weeks while your body goes through nicotine withdrawal.

If you are a smoker, use this November 21st to consider quitting; make a list of the benefits and drawbacks of smoking. Or try not smoking for the 24 hours of the smoke-out. If you know a smoker and would like them to quit, let them decide to quit on their own and then support them in their efforts.

For quitting support in your area, Call: 1-800-227-2345 or visit http://smokefree.gov/

  1. American Cancer Society. “History of the Great American Smokeout.” Great American Smokeout Day. American Cancer Society, 17 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/greatamericansmokeout/history-of-the-great-american-smokeout>.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004 [accessed 2013 June 28].
  3. National Cancer Institute. “Reasons to Quit.” Smokefree.gov. Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://smokefree.gov/reasons-to-quit>.
  4. National Cancer Institute. “Harmful effects of smoking on women’s health.” Women.smokefree.gov. Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. < www.women.smokefree.gov/11-harmful-effects-of-smoking-on-women’shealth.aspx>.
  5. Ma, Edmond, et al. “Effectiveness Of Acupuncture For Smoking Cessation In A Chinese Population.” Asia-Pacific Journal Of Public Health / Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium For Public Health (2013): MEDLINE. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.