Twenty-one percent of adults in the United States smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That equates to 46 million people, and every year for the past 35 years, the American Cancer Society has asked each and every one of them to stop—at least for one day, during the Great American Smokeout.
This year, the Smokeout is scheduled for November 18, and Weiss is preparing to play its part. On that date, the entire hospital campus—including the parking garage, parking lots and outside perimeter of the hospital—will become a totally smoke-free zone. And not just during the Smokeout: The campus will be permanently smoke-free and tobacco-free starting then.
“It’s about healthy living, people living longer lives,” said Abbie Lochotzki, coordinator at the WISE Senior Center.
To help hospital employees, patients and local residents work up to the big day, Lochotzki underwent training at the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago to become certified in guiding people to quit smoking. She runs a smoking cessation group at the hospital that meets once weekly for seven weeks. Open to the public, each meeting lasts one hour, and participants must attend all seven meetings. The next session begins Wednesday, November 3 and continues through Wednesday, December 15.
“We chit chat, get to know people’s triggers, how to break habits and how to keep balanced diets so you don’t put on weight when you quit,” Lochotzki said.
The program fits into Weiss’ Health for Life initiative, which focuses on factors for a healthy life: blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, nutrition, exercise, and glucose. Smoking affects virtually all six of these areas—raising a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to coronary heart disease. It also lowers lung function, making exercise difficult.
Yet, when smokers decide to quit, the physiological changes happen almost instantly. Their blood pressure and heart rate drops 20 minutes after having a cigarette. Twelve hours later, their carbon monoxide levels return to normal. And two weeks after that, lung function and circulation begin to improve noticeably. Within a year, their excess risk of heart disease becomes half that of a smoker’s, and between five and 15 years after that last cigarette, the risks of stroke and cancer also decrease significantly.
The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.
Check out the American Cancer Society’s cigarette calculator to find out exactly how many cigarettes you have smoked in any given period of time. From there, you can calculate what that means to your health—and to your wallet.
If you’re interested in signing up for the upcoming smoking cessation program at Weiss, call (773) 564-5666.