• Consumer Health: Are you ready to quit smoking?

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Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and your family's health. Quitting smoking can add years to your life, and it's never too late to see the health benefits of quitting.

Lung cancer claims more lives each year than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Although the disease can occur in people who have never smoked, people who smoke or have smoked have the greatest risk of lung cancer. Smoking raises the risk of other cancers, as well, including cancer of the throat, mouth, pancreas, kidney and cervix. Smoking also contributes to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease; and diabetes.

Secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke also cause and contribute to several serious health problems for people exposed to smoke exhaled by smokers, and the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoking. Family members, especially children, are most at risk from the effects of secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

It can be challenging to quit smoking, though, and it takes most smokers several tries before they succeed. Creating a quit-smoking plan and employing some tried-and-true strategies can help.

The American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November for more than 40 years. This year, it's on Thursday, Nov. 18, and you can join thousands of people across the country taking charge of their health that day by quitting smoking. Are you ready to quit?

Connect with other people supporting each other as the quit smoking in the Addiction & Recovery support group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.

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