Thursday, November 20, 2008
Great American Smokeout Day
Every year, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout® by smoking less or quitting for the day on the third Thursday of November. The event challenges people to stop using tobacco and raises awareness of the many effective ways to quit for good.
The Smokeout has helped bring about dramatic changes in Americans' attitudes about smoking, which have led to community programs and smoke-free laws that are now saving lives in many states. The event began in the 1970s when smoking and secondhand smoke were commonplace.
In many communities, local volunteers support quitters, publicize the event, and press for laws that control tobacco use and discourage teenagers from starting.
Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have some means of support, such as nicotine replacement products, counseling, prescription medicine to lessen cravings, guide books, and the encouragement of friends and family members.
Despite that, only about 1 in 7 current smokers reports having tried any of the recommended therapies during his or her last quit attempt. Telephone quitlines are a convenient new resource, available for free in many states.
Each year, the Great American Smokeout also draws attention to the deaths and chronic diseases caused by smoking. And throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, many state and local governments responded by banning smoking in workplaces and restaurants, raising taxes on cigarettes, limiting advertising, discouraging teen cigarette use, and taking further actions to counter smoking.
Today, an estimated 45 million US adults smoke. Tobacco use can cause lung cancer, as well as other cancers, heart disease, and lung disease. Smoking is responsible for 1 in 3 cancer deaths, and 1 in 5 deaths from all causes. Another 8.6 million people are living with serious illnesses caused by smoking.
Fortunately, the past 30 years have seen tremendous strides in changing attitudes about smoking, in understanding the addiction, and in learning how to help people quit.
Call 1-800-ACS-2345 to find a quitline or other science-based support in your area.
This is a subject near and dear to my heart as both my father and grandmother died of lung cancer attributed to cigarette smoking.