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updated: 11/20/2013 11:37 AM

November 21-A Great Day To Be A Quitter

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Jordan Green

The Great American Smoke-out is being observed on Thursday, November 21 this year and the DuPage County Health Department is encouraging smokers to use that date to kick off their attempts to quit smoking.

Tobacco use remains the largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, yet more than 43 million Americans still choose to smoke. By quitting, even for one day, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life and reduce their risk of disease. The health benefits of quitting smoking happen immediately:

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•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.

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

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

Call 1-866-QUIT YES (784-8937) to speak with a trained smoking cessation counselor and receive services like your needs assessment, customized quit plan, free local resources, and someone to check in with you to keep track of your progress.

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

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