Thursday, November 16, 2006
Cold Turkey Day
I've never been one to preach to my patients. For the most part, they already know if they should lose weight, exercise more or stop smoking. Still, I do think I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't occasionally provide gentle reminders. As it turns out, for the last 30 years, I've had some help.
Yes, today marks the 30th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Literally millions of smokers will say "no thanks" to cigarettes for at least 24 hours. There will be public service announcements, parades, rallies, athletic events and ceremonies with celebrities encouraging people to quit. One year, a national sandwich shop even gave out "cold turkey" sandwiches to smokers who turned in at least a half a pack of cigarettes. The hope is that this one day will push smokers who want to quit in the right direction.
Whether from the Smokeout or increased awareness over the years, we are seeing some positive signs. Recently, we became a nation with a higher number of former smokers (46.5 million) compared with active smokers (45.1 million). Also, in 1964, when the first surgeon general's report came out, there were only 500 community smoking bans. Today, there are 2,300 communities and 18 states with such ordinances. Unfortunately, there are still negative signs as well. We are no longer seeing significant declines in smoking rates among high school students, who represent the next generation of smokers.
Different things work for different people and you will never hear me preach about quitting. You already know what is best. I'm eager to hear how some of you have overcome the habit or are working at it.
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