Less people smoke cigarettes now than they did over 50 years ago (42 percent in 1965 to 15 percent in 2015, according to the American Cancer Society) but that still means that 36 million Americans are smoking. Arvind Ponnambalam, MD, Piedmont Physicians Peachtree Pulmonology at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, urges all smokers to quit smoking as soon as possible as it produces many benefits, regardless of age.
“On the first day you quit smoking, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal and within the first few weeks, your lung functions and circulation both improve,” said Dr. Ponnambalam. “Within a few months, you are coughing less and breathing better, and, by the one year anniversary your risk of a heart attack is reduced and your risk of heart disease is half of that of a smoker.”
The Great American Smokeout takes place on the third Thursday of every November. This year, on Thursday, November 16, millions of Americans will quit smoking. Quitting smoking, even for one day, is important, but people who would like to quit smoking long-term often need the support of family and friends, as well as support groups and, sometimes, prescriptions or nicotine replacement products.
“Your physician or a pulmonologist can give you good advice on how to successfully quit smoking,” said Dr. Ponnambalam. “Nicotine withdrawal symptoms are typically gone within two weeks and by then you will already to start to experience the health benefits.”
Quitting smoking doesn’t just benefit you, but also everyone around you. Smoke exposure causes many serious health problems – such as heart disease, stroke and lung cancer – in nonsmoking adults. In children, secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections and ear infections, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks.
There is a wealth of information on-line about how to quit smoking successfully and Piedmont hospitals periodically offer smoking cessation classes.
For more information, visit piedmont.org.