Give yourself a gift—quit smoking

Oregon—It’s the season for giving gifts. Why not be selfish and give yourself something that is not only free, but could save your life? Give up smoking!

It is a gift that will keep giving long after you accept it. In the first few days, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will drop to normal. The temperature of your hands and feet will increase to normal. By the end of the first week, you will have saved about $32 (one pack/day).

You will begin to notice other health benefits in the first few months: circulation improves, lung function increases up to 30 percent, and food begins to taste and smell better. Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath begin to decrease. After three months of being smoke-free, you could have an extra $400 in your pocket.

The benefits continue as time passes. The risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half within one year of quitting. Your risk of a stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker within five to 15 years. If the cost of cigarettes does NOT go up, you could save more than $16,000 in 10 years.

Why wait until January to start enjoying this gift? You do not have to do this on your own. The Illinois Department of Public Health sponsors the Illinois Tobacco QUITLINE (1-866-784-8937). This program offers free smoking cessation counseling over the telephone. Trained staff answer telephones from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. They can answer questions, assist in revising plans, and provide tips while offering support and encouragement in the smoking cessation process.

For more information about the QUITLINE or about quitting, call the Ogle County Health Department at (815) 732-3201, extension 279.

From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue

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