In January 1989, MD Anderson went smoke-free. It happened the same month and year that I started working here.
Now when people see me, they think of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout (GASO) and saying no to tobacco. That's because for 23 years, I've helped coordinate GASO's logistics and direct people to resources here at MD Anderson during the event, which is held every November.
But for me, GASO isn't about trying to quit for one day or one week. It's about providing resources to help year-round.
Here are a few of the resources I recommend to those trying to quit.
MD Anderson's Tobacco Treatment Program: Patients, their families and staff can call 713-792-QUIT or email email@example.com to see if they're eligible for free tobacco cessation services, which may include counseling and tobacco cessation medicines.
MD Anderson research studies: MD Anderson researchers are studying treatments that may make it easier to quit smoking. If you're eligible to participate, you may receive free counseling and be compensated for your time. Call 1-877-MDA-6789 to learn about our current tobacco treatment studies.
National Cancer Institute: Call the Smoking Quitline at 877-44U-QUIT to get support and help with quitting or check out their other resources, including the free QuitPal App that helps you set goals and track your progress.
American Cancer Society: Call 800-227-2345 to get support 24 hours a day and enroll in free services to help you follow a successful plan for quitting.
Smoking affects the whole body and the whole family
In my experience, people often aren't aware of two important points. First, smoking affects the whole body, and second, it can hurt your whole household.
Lung health and lung cancer are big concerns of people who smoke. Did you also know that smoking puts you at higher risk of cancer in other parts of the body? Doctors and nurses from the Genitourinary Center are active with GASO each year because smoking is the greatest risk factor for bladder cancer and kidney cancer. Women should be aware that smoking is a risk factor for cervical cancer, too.
Second, is your smoking hurting your loved ones? Many people I meet aren't aware of the effects of their smoking on others. We know more now about secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke -- the secondhand smoke that settles into dust in your walls, car, clothes and so on, that causes children to develop lung diseases.
Ready to quit? Resources to help you learn more
I encourage you to quit when you're ready. And when you see me, stop and share your story. We'll have a lot to celebrate.