Every year on the third Thursday of November, smokers from all over the USA take part in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.
On this day, smokers make a plan to quit, or have planned in advance to quit smoking on this day. Even if they only quit for this one day, people who smoke take a giant step towards a healthier life and reducing the risk of cancer.
There are 36.5 million Americans who still smoke.[i] The American Cancer Society (ACS) maintains that tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world. 85-90% of all lung cancer cases are related to smoking, and lung cancer accounts for more than one out of three cancer deaths.[ii]
While cigarette smoking rates have dropped by more than 40% since the 1960s, cigar, pipe and hookah smoking is on the rise.[iii] Smoking kills people and there is NO “safe” way to smoke tobacco.
More than just a day, the Smokeout is an actual event with ACS-sponsored tools and resources to help smokers refrain during work, at home, and during their leisure time. Some of these resources include tips for making a plan to quit, phone and web-based support, quitting apps (which show you how much money you are saving), fighting against withdrawal and staying smoke-free after you quit.
Quitting is a process. Like most processes, there is trial and error.
As most of us know already, trying to quit smoking successfully is very difficult, but not impossible. Many people try to quit smoking numerous times. The ACS believes that, “Rather than looking at a slip back to smoking as a failure, it should be considered an opportunity to learn more from experience and be better prepared to quit the next time.”[iv]
There are several different methods – and combinations of methods – to quit smoking, and there is no perfect way. Discover what method works for you.
- The ACS has reported (and research has demonstrated) that using medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – can increase your chances for success. Since the nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive, medications can be effective at helping you cut your dependence gradually over time so that ultimately quitting for life is attainable.
- Combine counseling with medication because these methods together improve your likelihood for quitting even more than just using medication. Good options include one-on-one counseling with a doctor, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or other health care providers; telephone quit lines; and support groups.
- Recruiting additional support from family, friends and co-workers can also increase your odds of quitting. Be sure to tell them about your plans to quit and spend quality time with non-smokers and ex-smokers who are willing to support your campaign. TIP: The ACS has a Do's and Don’ts for helping a smoker quit that you can share with those in your support network.
- Going "cold turkey," or trying to stop smoking all it once, is still an option but it’s best to make a plan to prepare for withdrawing from nicotine. A gradual plan in which you smoke fewer cigarettes each day can help diminish nicotine withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for many people to quit.
When you make the decision to stop smoking, use that change to kick start a new lifestyle, with new hobbies and activities to occupy your time. Spend more time with non-smokers and ex-smokers to avoid situations in which it is more tempting to light up. Make a plan, share it with the people who care about it most, and treat the plan like a "bucket list challenge" that leads to a healthier, more enjoyable lifestyle.
This November 16th, we invite all of you to do your part to promote healthy, tobacco-free living for yourselves and the people you love by joining in the Great American Smokeout!