[This piece was written by Erin Sinisgalli, director of St. Peter’s Health Partners Community Health Programs.]
Some readers may recall a time when cigarette advertising was everywhere – on the radio, on television, in newspapers, and adorning billboards across the country. It was nearly 50 years ago that Congress – in March of 1970 – signed legislation banning all cigarette commercials on radio and television. It was the start of a new era, where smoking was finally being recognized as a serious public health hazard.
Despite the many gains made in the effort to reduce smoking in the United States, the American Cancer Society estimates more than 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths yearly. Moreover, 17 million Americans suffer from a serious smoking-related disease including cancers, such as colorectal, lung and liver; heart disease; stroke; and diabetes.
The good news is if you quit smoking, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve smoked, or how long you have smoked. Even after years of neglect, your body will begin to repair itself:
- Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop just 20 minutes after quitting.
- The carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal just 12 hours after quitting.
- Within one to nine months your lungs will start to regain normal function, with a decrease in coughing and shortness of breath.
- Within one year, your risk of heart disease is cut in half.
- In two to five years, your risk of stroke can fall to a non-smoker’s level.
- Five years after quitting your risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancers are halved, and cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
Statistics show you’re more likely to quit if you have a plan. It is helpful to consult with your primary health care provider as they can help guide you and provide access to the necessary products – both over-the-counter and prescription – that will assist you in kicking the habit for good.
St. Peter’s Health Partners is also here to help, offering a seven-week, virtual smoking cessation program, The Butt Stops Here, beginning Monday, April 8, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The program offers the support of a group cessation program from the comfort of your own home.
Individuals will need a phone, laptop or tablet with Internet access to participate. You will receive a link to a Zoom meeting, led by a St. Peter’s Health Partners facilitator, where you can see and talk to other individuals working to kick the habit. Supplies to participate will be mailed to your home.
For information or to register, visit http://sphp.com/classes-events or call Ashley Lewis at 518-459-2550. For information on the Butt Stops Here program and tobacco cessation options, visit www.sphp.com/community-wellness-programs.
St. Peter’s Health Partners Community Health Programs is partially funded by grants from the NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control. For information, call the NYS Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit www.nysmokefree.com/.