Submitted by Bedford Youth and Family Services

November has been recognized as Substance Abuse Awareness Month in Bedford since 1998. Our hope is to enhance community awareness of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems that may exist among children, adolescents, and adults. As the effects of substance abuse are felt by the whole community and need to be addressed by the whole community, we hope to mobilize citizens, community agencies, schools, religious organizations, businesses, and health facilities to work together for education and prevention.

Every November for the past 40 years, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout and encourages smokers to quit for at least 1 day in the hope that this might challenge them to stop permanently. It’s never too late to quit!

In addition to inspiring people to take charge of their health, the Smokeout has raised public awareness of the dangers of nicotine use and smoking and the sly tactics of the tobacco companies to get youngsters addicted early.

About 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. There is good news to report: Adult smoking rates have fallen from about 43% (1965) to about 15% today. Mortality rates from lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in this country, are declining.  However, while cigarette smoking rates have dropped, cigar, pipe, hookah and e-cigarettes are very much on the rise.

E-cigarette use among U.S. youth and young adults is now a major public health concern.

E-cigarette use has increased considerably in recent years, growing an astounding 900% among high

school students from 2011 to 2015. These products are now the most commonly used form of nicotine among youth in the United States, surpassing conventional tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and hookahs. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain. Compared with older adults, the brain of youth and young adults is more vulnerable to the negative consequences of nicotine exposure. The effects include addiction, susceptibility for use of other addictive substances, reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, and mood disorders

Each day, more than 3,200 youth younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette and another 2,100 youth and young adults who are occasional smokers progress to become daily smokers.

Most people know that using tobacco can cause lung cancer, but few know it’s also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, voice box, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and stomach, as well as some leukemias. It’s also linked to a number of other health problems, from heart disease to stroke. And there is no safe way to use tobacco. Cigars, pipes, and other types of smokeless tobacco all pose serious health risks.

The American Cancer Society encourages tobacco users to set the Great American Smokeout – November 16th this year – as the day they make a plan to quit.

When you’re ready to quit, they are there to help. Many tools exist to help people quit now. Contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 for support – 24/7. Or check out:  www.smokefree.gov

Benefits of Quitting Smoking Over Time

It’s never too late to quit using tobacco. The sooner you quit, the more you can reduce your chances of getting cancer and other diseases.

Within minutes of smoking your last cigarette, your body begins to recover:

20 Minutes After Quitting:

  • Your heart rate drops to a normal level.

12 Hours After Quitting:

  • The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.

2 Weeks to 3 Months After Quitting:

  • Your risk of having a heart attack begins to drop.
  • Your lung function begins to improve.

1 to 9 Months After Quitting:

  • Your coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

1 Year After Quitting:

  • Your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.

5 to 15 Years After Quitting:

  • Your risk of having a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s.
  • Your risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, or esophagus is half that of a smoker’s.

10 Years After Quitting:

  • Your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s.
  • Your risk of getting bladder cancer is half that of a smoker’s.
  • Your risk of getting cervical cancer or cancer of the larynx, kidney, or pancreas decreases.

15 Years After Quitting:

  • Your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2016 Surgeon General’s Report: E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults

If you have questions or would like more information, contact Jessica Wildfong,  Prevention Services Coordinator for Bedford Youth and Family Services. She can be reached at 781-275-7727 or jessicaw@bedfordma.gov

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