According to the American Cancer Society, despite the fact that the national smoking rate has dropped to just 14%, more than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes; smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and illness globally.
If you’re a smoker, quitting can vastly improve your health, no matter your age. But it can be hard to quit, especially if you’re trying to go it alone. According to the ACS, nicotine is one of the strongest addictions one can have. Creating a network of help and support as you quit can increase your chances of quitting for good. This is one of the reasons the American Cancer Society (ACS) created the Great American Smokeout more than 40 years ago.
The ACS hosts this national awareness event every year on the third Thursday of November. The Smokeout is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives. The ACS as well as community groups, businesses, and health care providers make smoking cessation their priority on this day, and work to provide resources and support for people who want to quit smoking.
The Great American Smokeout grew from a small event in Randolph, Massachusetts, in 1970. High school counselor, Arthur P. Mullaney, asked people to give up cigarettes for one entire day, and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. Four years later, Lynn R. Smitth, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, created that state’s first “Don’t Smoke Day.” The idea spread, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the ACS challenged nearly 1 million people who smoked to quit for the day. That was considered the first official Smokeout, and it became a nationwide event the following year.
This year, the Great American Smokeout falls on Thursday, November 21. If you or someone you know is thinking about quitting, or has struggled to quit before, consider challenging them to quit on Nov 21. Let them know they’ll have the support of the ACS, healthcare organizations like Valley-Wide, and the millions of Americans who participate in this day without cigarettes.
For more information or to get started with smoking cessation resources and recommendations, or, if you’d like to research some tips on how to help someone who is quitting, please visit https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html