diverse mother and daughter breathing in with healthy lungs

On November 17th of this year Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center (GSAHEC) will celebrate the Great American Smokeout® (GASO), a national holiday hosted by the American Cancer Society that provides an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives: not just for a day, but year-round.  The Great American Smokeout® also provides an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, healthcare providers, and others to encourage people to plan to quit on the GASO date or initiate a smoking cessation plan on the day of the event. This event not only challenges people to stop smoking, but it also educates people about the many free tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit.1

Despite what some may say, it is never too late to quit smoking! In fact, you can experience several benefits of quitting smoking within hours of quitting and can enjoy the benefits of being tobacco-free for years to come.  As soon as a person quits, his or her body begins to heal:2

  • 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: risk of heart attack begins to drop, and lung function begins to improve.
  • 1 to 9 months after quitting: coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • 1 year after quitting: heart attack risk drops sharply.
  • 2 to 5 years after quitting: stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker’s.
  • 5 years after quitting: risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
  • 10 years after quitting: risk of dying from lung cancer is about half of a smoker’s, and risk of cancer of the kidney and pancreas decreases.
  • 15 years after quitting: risk of coronary heart disease is back to that of a non-smoker’s.


If you or a loved one are looking to quit smoking (or all forms of tobacco), or if you want to promote the Great American Smokeout® to your business, community groups, or patients, there are many free resources available to help someone quit! GSAHEC offers free virtual and in-person group quit sessions—sponsored by the Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida program—that are available to help someone quit all forms of tobacco.  These group quit sessions provide information about the effects of tobacco use, the benefits of quitting, and will assist you with developing your own customized quit plan. Free nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum or lozenges (if medically appropriate and while supplies last) are provided with session attendance. Attendees will also receive a participant workbook, quit kit items, and follow up support from a trained tobacco treatment specialist. Contact us today at 866-534-7909 or visit our calendar to schedule a session or learn more about the program!