American Cancer Society encourages smokers to make a plan to quit

The 45th Great American Smokeout® is Nov. 19

OW Staff Writer | 11/16/2020, 2:08 p.m.
The American Cancer Society is encouraging all tobacco users...

The American Cancer Society is encouraging all tobacco users to commit or recommit to healthy, smoke-free/tobacco-free lives by participating in the American Cancer Society’s 45th annual Great American Smokeout® event Thursday, Nov. 19.

“The most important thing smokers can do to improve their health is to quit smoking cigarettes and other forms of combustible tobacco,” said Ilda Zapeda, cancer control strategic partnerships manager for the Society in Southern California. “We are showing our support for people who take those first steps toward making a plan to quit.”

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for 29 percent of all cancer deaths. In fact, smoking cigarettes kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined. Smoking not only causes cancer. It damages nearly every organ in the body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, reproductive organs, mouth, skin, eyes, and bones.

Addiction to nicotine in cigarettes is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions one can have. While cigarette smoking rates have dropped (from 42 percent in 1965 to 13.7 percent in 2018), about 34.2 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Each year, approximately 20 million American smokers try to quit, representing more than half of the smokers in the U.S. Only about 7 percent succeed. An even greater percentage of smokers (68 percent) report being interested in quitting.

Quitting is hard. It takes commitment and starts with a plan, often takes more than one quit attempt, and requires a lot of support. Getting help through counseling and/or prescription medications can double or triple your chances of quitting successfully. Support is also important. Smoking cessation programs, telephone quit lines, Nicotine Anonymous meetings, self-help materials such as books and pamphlets, and smoking counselors or coaches can be a great help.

The American Cancer Society wants to help the people in our community to be healthy and happy,” continued Zapeda. “During this year’s Great American Smokeout event, we hope everyone will join us and encourage their friends, family and colleagues to join us, in committing or recommitting to year-round, smoke-free lives.”

The American Cancer Society is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide support as people make their plan to quit. More information is available at cancer.org/smokeout or by calling (800) 227-2345.