Putting smoking on pause

By Greg Gelpi

Suffering cravings and growing agitated without cigarettes, Kwabena Sarfo of Riverdale called it "tough" to quit smoking.

The Clayton College & State University student smokes about a half pack a day and has been smoking for about five years, he said.

The American Cancer Society calls tobacco as "addicting as opiates, amphetamines and cocaine." About 5 percent of every day smokers are able to quit smoking for a year or more.

Holding its 28th Annual Great American Smokeout, the American Cancer Society called for smokers across the nation to resist the craving and give up smoking Thursday.

"I've thought about quitting, but not anytime soon," Sarfo said.

Since the American Cancer Society began the Great American Smokeout in 1977, smoke-free laws have been enacted in cities across the country.

More than 8.3 million of the 46.2 million smokers in the nation participated in the 2003 Smokeout, according to the American Cancer Society. Of those, about 2.3 million made it through the day without lighting up.

Although smoking rates have "dropped dramatically" in the 28 years of the Smokeout, the American Cancer Society warns of the continued danger of smoking and tobacco.

"Smoking will cause about 30 percent of 2004's estimated 563,700 cancer deaths," according to the American Cancer Society. "Smoking causes many cancers besides lung cancer. It is a major cause of cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, bladder, pancreas and cervix and has more recently been associated with colorectal cancer, myeloid leukemia, as well as cancers of the liver, stomach and nasal sinuses."

"Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, more than 40 of which are known or suspected to cause cancer in humans and animals," according to the society. "From 1995 to 1999, adult male and female smokers lost an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life, respectively, due to smoking."

Those seeking information or support to quit smoking can contact the American Cancer Society 24 hours a day at (800) ACS-2345 or www.cancer.org. Information is also available at Southern Regional Medical Center.