Your turkey will taste better if you quit smoking before Thanksgiving
Nov. 14, 2023
Quitting a bad habit can be difficult. Maybe considering everything that can be gained by quitting smoking can help.
Of course, everyone knows that smoking is bad for you and interferes with your lung and heart function.
Did you know it also dulls your sense of smell and taste?
The Great American Smokeout is held on the third Thursday of November, which this year is Nov. 16. Coincidentally, or not, it takes place a week before Thanksgiving.
It turns out, two days after quitting, a former smoker already experiences scents and flavors better.
So a week later, a turkey and all the trimmings should taste pretty great.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol.
The Great American Smokeout began in 1977. Created and promoted by the American Cancer Society, the Great American Smokeout is a simple idea.
Encourage people to give up smoking for just one day. If they’re lucky, they’ll feel better and see that it’s doable. And maybe they will not smoke the next day, and the next.
As the American Cancer Society points out: Twenty minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal. After two weeks to three months, circulation improves and lung function increases. After one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Cilia start to regain function in your lungs, increasing their ability to clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection.
Unfortunately, West Virginia continues to have the highest reported adult smoking rates in the nation at 25.2%, according to the state Division of Tobacco Prevention. The national smoking prevalence for adults is less than half that figure at 11.5%.
Sadly, the same can be said for youths who smoke, with a rate of 14.4% compared to the national rate of 6%. And the rate of pregnant smokers is an astonishing 30%, three times the national average.
That figure also illustrates that more young West Virginia residents will be exposed to second-hand smoke and be at a heightened risk of becoming smokers themselves.
Clearly, there is work that needs to be done to help Mountain State residents create healthier habits.
Four of Monongalia County Health Department’s programs do their part. As of 2012, smoking was prohibited in enclosed public spaces thanks to the Monongalia County Board of Health. That order was updated in 2017 to include e-cigarettes, aka vaping.
Also, patients and clients of Clinical Services, WIC and Dentistry can receive oral health education, and the latter includes oral cancer screenings in routine checkups.
If you want to quit, there is additional help out there beyond the promise of a healthier body and a tastier holiday meal.
The health department recommends that smokers take advantage of the West Virginia Tobacco Quitline, a resource that helps West Virginians who want to stop smoking. Enrollment can be done online or by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The WVTQ provides coaches via telephone calls who can share useful tips, information and support. The program also provides a variety of products to help you.
Maybe in a mere six weeks, you’ll enter 2024 needing to find a new resolution to make because you already quit cigarettes.
And maybe by the time the next Great American Smokeout rolls around, you will be celebrating how your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of someone who still smokes, and your heart attack risk will have dropped dramatically.
And the Thanksgiving turkey will taste delicious.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer for Monongalia County Health Department.