Smoking is the single largest preventable causes of death and illness. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS), The Great American Smokeout is an annual event held every year on the third Thursday in November. This event focuses on encouraging Americans to quit by challenging them to stop smoking for at least 24 hours, assuming that their decision not to smoke will, hopefully, last for forever.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, which is around 1 in 5 deaths. More than 43 million American adults smoke cigarettes and those who smoke heavily suffer from smoking-related cancer and other diseases. No matter your age or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Giving up smoking will improve your health both immediately and in the long term.
Though quitting smoking isn’t easy, you can succeed with a proper plan and the right support. Make Great American Smokeout on November 18 the day to start your journey towards a smoke-free life.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has been hosting the Great American Smokeout for more than 40 years now. The first Great American Smokeout took place in California on November 18, 1976. According to the California division of the ACS, nearly 1 million people stopped smoking cigarettes that day. On observing its positive effects, the event was taken nationwide in 1977. Since then, many public places and work areas became smoke-free and dramatic changes have been witnessed in the way the public views tobacco advertising and tobacco use (cancer.org)
The event provides the opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, health care providers, and others to encourage people who smoke to make a plan to quit smoking and implement it on the day of the event.
Every individual is unique and can develop their own plan to quit. Some people may be able to quit abruptly and completely, whereas others may find it easier to cut back gradually. Some need substitutions and distractions to suppress smoking cravings and others need special medicines. No matter which path you choose, the Great American Smokeout event is the perfect occasion to make the first step towards a tobacco-free life.
When you are ready to quit, the next step is to devise a plan and make it work. Here six effective ways to stop smoking:
- Identify the triggers: Identify the triggers that drive your urge to smoke and avoid them. Situations that make people crave smoking are the smell of cigarette smoke, the sight of a carton of cigarettes, eating certain foods, drinking coffee, and becoming stressed. Make a plan to overcome these triggers.
- NRT: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a widely recommended option to reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms you experience during smoking cessation. NRT is aimed at weaning your body off cigarettes with a controlled dose of nicotine. Without exposing you to chemicals found in tobacco. U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved NRTs include skin patches, chewing gum, lozenges, prescription nicotine in a nasal spray or inhaler.
- Physical Activity: Exercises like running and walking can distract from tobacco cravings and reduce their intensity. Other options to keep busy and cope with the urge to smoke include puzzles, needlework, gardening, journaling, or household chores.
- Relax: For many people, smoking is a way to cope with stress. Relaxation techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, yoga, visualization, massage or listening to calming music, can help.
- Get support: Some people are so dependent on smoking that even the thought of quitting can be both emotionally and physically challenging. This can make them back off from quitting. The solution is to get support:
- Get help to quit from friends and family who do not smoke
- Your doctor can prescribe medication to ease withdrawal symptoms
- Consider behavioral and motivational therapies
If you have decided to quit tobacco, the Great American Smokeout Day is the ideal occasion to take your first step. Though quitting is not easy, you can do it. Every time you do something to beat the cravings, you’re one step closer to becoming totally smoke-free. If you don’t smoke, support the event. Great American Smokeout tools and resources can be downloaded from the ACS website for use in workplaces, health systems, and other places in your community.