The third Thursday in November marks the annual Great American Smokeout, an initiative started by the American Cancer Society (ACS) in 1976. This event aims to raise awareness about the health hazards of smoking and inspire individuals to quit, even if just for one day.
Why hold a “smokeout?”
About 34 million American adults smoke cigarettes today – that’s about 21% of all adults. This number has not changed in many years, so we still have a way to go to prevent the illness and deaths caused by smoking.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide causing an estimated 480,000 deaths per year. Smoking contributes to 12 different types of cancer, lung and heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
The Power of One Smoke-free Day
The concept of the Great American Smokeout is to take the first step towards a healthier life. The ACS sums it up by saying “You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Start with one day.”
You may think focusing on one day isn’t enough, but it is a great place to start. Nicotine is highly addictive which is what makes quitting so difficult. To set yourself up for success, make a quit plan. Talk about it with your healthcare providers and ask for their support. There are medications and nicotine replacement products that can give you the help you need to be successful. Learn about making a plan on OncoLink.
Support to Help You Succeed in Quitting Tobacco
Whether it’s friends, family, or online communities, finding encouragement and understanding can make a big difference. There are many places to turn for support, including quitlines, apps, and quit classes/programs. Below are some helpful resources to check out.
Is your loved one a smoker? Provide support and encouragement to them. Are you a healthcare provider? Continue to ask patients if they smoke and offer them support and resources to quit. Are you in a two-smoker household? Support each other and make this GAS your time to quit – together!
A Healthier Tomorrow Without Tobacco
Participating in the Great American Smokeout is not just about putting down cigarettes for a day; it’s about embracing a healthier future. Within hours of quitting, blood pressure and heart rate drop to a more normal level. Within days the carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal. Over time, the risk of heart disease and cancer lessens, contributing to a longer and healthier life. Your sense of taste and smell will improve over time and just imagine all that extra cash you’ll have from not buying tobacco!
Joining the Great American Smokeout is simple – start by making a commitment to quit smoking for the day. Seek support from friends, family, or online communities. Get help from your healthcare team. Explore the resources below and find the right combination of support for you. Remember that quitting isn’t easy and can take multiple tries – don’t give up!
Quit Smoking Resources
Smokefree.gov: provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking. From the National Cancer Institute.
Become an EX: A project of the Truth Initiative and Mayo Health, this resource includes an active social community, text, and email messaging support, expert guidance and interactive quitting tools.
Tobacco-Free Kids: one of the nation’s largest non-governmental initiatives, with the goal of protecting children from tobacco addiction and exposure to secondhand smoke. They offer talking points and support for parents.
QuitLogix: An online program designed to help people quit smoking successfully. While it is run by the State of Pennsylvania, you do not have to be a resident to participate.
The American Cancer Society: There are many excellent resources and printed materials (brochures/booklets) available from the American Cancer Society. Learn more by visiting their website or by calling their toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345. Representatives can also help you find local in-person support resources.
Freedom From Smoking Online: This online resource for adults is an adaptation of the American Lung Association’s gold standard, group clinic that has helped thousands of smokers to quit for good.
CDC Tobacco Information Page: Contains lots of helpful information covering: statistics, kids and smoking, quitting, research information (Surgeon General’s Reports), etc.
Nicotine Anonymous: a 12 step Fellowship of men and women helping each other live nicotine-free lives.
About the author: Carolyn Vachani is an oncology advanced practice nurse and the Innovation Director at OncoLink. She has worked in many areas of oncology including BMT, clinical research, radiation therapy, and staff development. She serves as the project leader in the development and maintenance of the OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan and has a strong interest in oncology survivorship care. She enjoys discussing just about any cancer topic, as well as gardening, cooking, and, of course, her sons.