For the estimated 40 million adults who still smoke, it usually only takes one good reason to quit.
Lung cancer is often cited, but smoking also dramatically increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, respiratory disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and several other kinds of cancer.
Besides personal health, there’s also the harmful impact on those around you, including your spouse, children, and even your pets.
Smoking is still the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s an effort being made to bring the smoking rate down from 17 percent of adults in 2014 to zero.
Today is Kick Butts Day, a nationwide rallying effort since 1996 for people who want to reduce Big Tobacco’s influence over the nation’s health.
More than 1,000 events are planned across the country to help people quit smoking, and to keep others from starting.
While smoking rates are decreasing every year, the goal of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is to help smokers quit, keep kids off nicotine, and keep everyone away from harmful secondhand smoke.
Using #iKickButts, former smokers can share photos on social media to illustrate what they’re doing to stay smoke-free, or to educate and encourage others.
Coinciding with Kick Butts Day, CVS announced recipients for the latest round of grants aimed at curbing tobacco use among children. Two years ago the pharmacy retailer distinguished itself from its competitors by announcing it would no longer carry tobacco products.
The grants include $5 million over five years, and will be delivered by the CVS Health Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the company.
“In just one year, we’ve seen great progress from our grantees awarded through our partnership with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids,” Eileen Howard Boone, CVS Health Foundation president, said in a press release. “We’re proud to provide support to organizations that are helping to empower youth to speak out on tobacco issues in their communities. By working together, we can help deliver the first tobacco-free generation.”
While the federal Tobacco Control Act dictates the minimum age to buy tobacco is 18, it does allow state, local, and tribal authorities to expand that regulation.
Some of these entities are taking the lead by upping the age to 21.
Raising the Age
Long gone are the days when celebrities endorsed tobacco, and smoking was allowed indoors, including hospitals.
Places where smoking is allowed are rapidly decreasing and buying cigarettes is becoming increasingly difficult.
It may be harder for younger smokers who want to light up depending on where they live. And while there’s no direct correlation, it appears sunshine negatively impacts states’ smoking tolerance.
In June, Hawaii made history as the first state in the United States to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21.
Last week, California legislators voted to become the second state to raise the minimum age to 21. The bill, which still requires Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature to become law, was part of a package that included regulating, taxing, and labeling e-cigarettes and other nicotine devices accordingly.
The goal of these age increases is to prevent access to tobacco products. With the minimum at 21, exposure to younger, more impressionable would-be smokers will be limited.
Opponents to these types of measures often cite a loss of personal liberty when such restrictions are placed on tobacco products.
California State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, told the Daily Californian, he was sure plenty of minors were smoking despite the current minimum age being 18.
“I don’t expect human nature to change, whether in or out of a university,” Moorlach said.
Researchers, on the other hand, disagree.
According to a report released last March by the Institutes of Medicine, raising the minimum age to at least 21 would likely lead to a substantial reduction in smoking-related deaths. It would also reduce others’ exposure to secondhand smoke.
Quitting Cold Turkey
If you missed Kick Butts Day as your quit day this year, you don’t need to wait until next year.
New research suggests that you should pick a day and go for it, rather than going at it gradually.
A study published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, says smokers who quit cold turkey have higher success rates than those who slowly wean themselves off of cigarettes.
A research team at Oxford University and other institutions examined nearly 700 smokers who quit by either abruptly stopping or reducing their cigarette use by 75 percent two weeks before their quit date.
Both groups were offered both nicotine replacement therapy and behavioral therapy.
After four weeks, nearly half of those who quit cold turkey were still smoke-free, compared with nearly 40 percent of those who quit suddenly. At six months, 22 percent of those who quit abruptly were still not smoking. Only 15 percent of those who weaned themselves off cigarettes could say the same.
“Quitting smoking abruptly is more likely to lead to lasting abstinence than cutting down first, even for smokers who initially prefer to quit by gradual reduction,” the research team concluded.