November 17 is the Great American Smokeout®

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November 17 is the Great American Smokeout®

The Great American Smokeout® was adopted by the American Cancer Society as an annual event that encourages smokers to quit. By quitting — even for one day — you will be taking an important step toward a healthier life — one that can lead to reducing your cancer risk.


What are the immediate benefits of quitting?

Quitting tobacco offers some rewards that you’ll notice right away. You’ll immediately start to save money! Use the calculator to determine how much money you will save by not smoking cigarettes. You may also notice these benefits:

  • Food tastes better.
  • Your sense of smell returns to normal.
  • Your breath, hair and clothes smell better.
  • Your teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
  • Ordinary activities leave you less out of breath (for example, climbing stairs or light housework).
  • You can be in smoke-free buildings without having to go outside to smoke.

Quitting also helps stop the damaging effects of tobacco that affect your appearance, including wrinkling of your skin, gum disease and tooth loss.

What are the benefits of quitting over time?

It’s never too late to quit using tobacco. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your risk of disease, including cancer. After smoking your last cigarette, your body immediately begins the recovery process, which continues over the long term:

  • 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. Tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs (called cilia) start to regain normal function in your lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
  • 1 year after quitting: The excess risk of heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes. Your heart attack risk drops dramatically.
  • 5 years after quitting: Your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder is cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. Your stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2 to 5 years.
  • 10 years after quitting: Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking. Your risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decrease.
  • 15 years after quitting: Your risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

Are you ready for help?

If you smoke, we are here to help you stop. Our Tobacco-Free PATH smoking cessation program is available to you at no extra cost and is designed to support you as you try to quit smoking for good.

To join this program*, New York State residents please call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), non-residents of New York State, please call 1-877-500-2393, Monday through Friday between 8 am and 9 pm, Saturday between 9 am and 7 pm and Sunday between 9 am and 5 pm. TTY/TDD users should call 711.

*GHI NY City PPO (active and retirees) should call the National Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

You can also find help by visiting:

American Heart Association



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