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updated: 11/14/2012 11:02 AM

November 15 is a great day to be a quitter

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY-The Great American Smokeout is being observed on Nov. 15 and the DuPage County Health Department is encouraging smokers to use that date to quit permanently or at least for the day. Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help.

The Health Department recommends that smokers call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline for help. The quitline is a service of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the American Lung Association of Illinois.

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Call 1-866-QUIT YES (784-8937) to speak with a trained smoking cessation counselor. The counselor will help you:

Assess your needs.

Customize a quit plan.

Find free local resources.

Check with you to keep track of your progress.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, yet more than 46 million Americans still smoke. The Great American Smokeout is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Here are the benefits of quitting smoking:

20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drop.

12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.

1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.

1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker.

5 years after quitting: Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.

10 years after quitting: The risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. The risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decreases.

15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker.

These are just a few of the benefits of quitting smoking for good. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.

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