Quit Smoking THIS WEEK

Amanda MacMillan, SELF magazine

You know how bad smoking is for you, and hopefully you kicked whatever habit you may have had long ago. Congrats: Your lungs are well on their way to becoming good as new, [Ed. note: Kicked butts to the curb over three-and-a-half years ago!] But for those of you who could still use a little help -- or for all of us who have loved ones who haven't yet seen the light -- here's a date to pencil into your calendar.

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This Thursday, November 15, is the Great American Smokeout. Officially, it's the day smokers are encouraged to quit smoking, just for 24 hours, or to make a plan to quit for good.

So, for any of you who still light up--or know someone close to them who does--remind him or her that cigs don't just harm the person puffing--they're also dangerous to those around them: they're inhaling your smoke, too. Case in point: a study published this month by on the health impact of smoking bans in public places. Guess what? They're working!

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That's right: Remember the days when cigarettes were commonplace in bars and restaurants --not just out on the sidewalk? This may still be the case in some parts of the country, but here in New York it feels like ages ago.

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco recently found that the implementation of smoke-free laws throughout the U.S. and several other countries were followed by a 15 percent drop in hospitalizations for heart attacks, a 16 percent drop for strokes and a 24 percent drop for respiratory diseases. One small town in Mississippi saved $302,000 in health-care costs due to heart attacks alone in the 35 months following a ban. [Ed. note: And we were just happy our hair doesn't reek after a night in the bar...]

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Those are some significant numbers, and not a bad opening for a dialogue with friends and family--or, in some cases, with yourself--about the real costs of smoking. And we're not just talking about the 12 bucks a pack in New York City.

And share your successes with us this week on Facebook and Twitter, whether it's your own or someone you love's.

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