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Commit to quit smoking

This Thursday is a good day to clear the air, so to speak.

It’s the annual Great American Smokeout — marked on the third Thursday in November — when smokers, hopefully, will make the commitment to stop smoking for the day.

It’s a great first step to stopping an extremely bad habit that could lead to dire consequences.

Here are some statistics, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society, that just may persuade some smokers to kick the habit for good:

• 480,000 — The number of deaths in America caused by cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke yearly.

• 16 million — The number of Americans who live with smoke-related diseases.

• 87 percent — The percentage of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. caused by smoking.

• 34 million — The number of Americans who smoke cigarettes.

• 2,000 — The number of people under the age of 18 who each day smoke their first cigarette — more than 300 will become daily cigarette smokers.

• 58 million — The number of Americans who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

We offer these statistics with the hope that many smokers take that first step to stop and put down those cigarettes, cigars and pipes, or don’t put a pinch between your cheek and gums.

Did you know that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., yet nearly one in every five adults smokes.

Considering the alternatives — lung cancer, lip cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat and digestive tract — it’s not so hard to consider quitting, right?

Some of the benefits of ending smoking include an increase in lung function within three months; a reduction in coughing and shortness of breath and a gain in the body’s natural defenses against lung infections within nine months; and in a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is dropped to half that of a smoker.

If the health statistics aren’t enough, calculate the cost of your particular form of tobacco in your weekly, monthly and annual budget, please. We are completely sure a savings will be found.

The Great American Smokeout isn’t just about struggling through a single-day commitment to go tobacco free.

It’s about learning and about finding and using tools to reduce and eventually end personal tobacco use. If cold turkey quitting is too much, consider the availability of counseling, nicotine replacement products, group support, telephone hotline support, guidebooks and encouragement, including nagging, from friends and family.

Make the commitment and try to stay away from tobacco for just one day. It’s the first step to a healthier lifestyle.

When you’re breathing better, when your heart is functioning better, you can be more active, and that means better health overall.

Commit to quit, and take it one step at a time.

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