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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingAccording to the latest statistics from the CDC, 46-million adults are current smokers. That's roughly one in four men and one in five women. This Thursday is the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout; the day when more people quit than any other day in the year.
There are some people who think smoking cigarettes will keep them from gaining weight. Others think it makes them look cool. By the time they realize those are just myths, they're hooked.
Back in the 1950's tobacco ads made smoking seem cool, even fun. But there's nothing cool or fun about lung cancer, or about having to surgically remove your larynx because of cancer. Just ask Debi Austin.
Debi Austin: "You know it aint cool, it aint smart, and it aint cute. It is a drug habit.
It's a habit surrounded by myths. The number one myth among smokers is that ‘it might be hard for others to quit, but I can do it anytime.’ Don't tell that to Barbara Apman.
Barbara Apman, Former Smoker: "I quit once on the Great American Smokeout, and I quit for about 8 hours. And you know for a four pack a day smoker that is huge. Then I just kept smoking until I had this horrendous attack and then I had no choice, I just couldn't even inhale."
It takes on average six attempts at quitting before a smoker is successful.
Myth number two, ‘smoking doesn't hurt anyone but me.’ Secondhand smoke kills an estimated 53-thousand people every year. It puts non-smokers at increased risk of ear infections, asthma attacks and other breathing problems.
Debi Austin: "We do not pass laws to punish smokers, we pass laws to protect people from us. As smokers we are predators, we steal your personal space, we steal your breath, we take away your rights to freedom."
Myth number three, ‘Smoking only a few cigarettes a day is ok.’ Each cigarette contains some four thousand chemicals, at least 43 of which are linked to cancer. Each inhalation sends those chemicals into the body and the bloodstream. The impact is like a slow form of suicide.
Myth number four, ‘It won't happen to me.’ 87 percent of lung cancer cases are linked to smoking, as are 21 percent of deaths from heart disease, 18 percent of deaths from stroke, and 82 percent of deaths from emphysema and bronchitis.
If that doesn't persuade you, smoking stains teeth, triples the risk of getting cavities and causes wrinkles.
Barbara Apman: "It's more in women which is not fair. But it does create many more wrinkles in women than in women who don't smoke.”
And myth number five, ‘I've smoked for years so it's too late to stop now.’ It's never too late. When you stop smoking your circulation immediately improves and your lungs start clearing up. Within one year you have cut your risk of heart disease in half and reduced your risk of stroke or cancer.
You can never turn back the clock completely, but quitting now can add years to your life and added quality to those years.
18 to 24-year olds make up the group with the highest rate of smoking at twenty-seven percent.
For help with quitting, contact the American Cancer Society (800-ACS-2345). Or you can contact the Huntsman Cancer Institute, which is offering a number of smoking cessation classes and helpful brochures like “How to help your loved one stop smoking."