Hide the Matches, Toss the Lighters...
SEATTLE - Maybe this is the week to quit smoking. Thursday is the 35th annual American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout, and experts say you can add up to eight years to your life by quitting. In Washington state, almost 15 percent of adults are smokers, and 20 percent of High School seniors smoke.
However, of the 36 million Americans who still smoke daily, most would rather not, according to American Cancer Society spokesperson Allison Miller.
"In numerous studies, it has been shown that upwards of 70 percent of smokers in total want to quit. It's just a matter of being successful. It often takes several different tries."
Every year, 4,300 cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in Washington and more than 3,000 people die from the disease.
Miller says you can increase the odds of quitting successfully by using available free resources to make a plan. Then, she suggests, have your last cigarette on Wednesday - and make Thursday the beginning of a much healthier life.
The American Cancer Society's website, www.cancer.org, has plenty of helpful ideas, she adds.
"There are several tips and plans, so that people can develop that plan in advance, whether they're going to quit on the Great American Smokeout or they're looking just to quit in general."
Higher cigarette taxes influence the smoking rate, as do state laws against smoking in public places. Washington has one of the toughest laws, and Miller says that has been helpful.
"Second-hand smoke has 4,000 chemicals, 60 of which are known to cause cancer. Just getting that out of all of our workplaces is a tremendous step forward in the fight against cancer."
The American Cancer Society says one-third of cancer deaths could be prevented if people avoided tobacco products. But others see smoking as a personal choice - and a source of revenue for the state.