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Thursday November 18 Marks the 35th Great American Smokeout


Thursday November 18 marks the 35th Great American Smokeout (GASO), an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to quit for at least 1 day.

It has always been hoped the GASO day would become the first day of the individual becoming a non-smoker permanently. One day is not enough to see the benefits of not smoking, but it is enough for the individual to realize they are able to do it.

Whether due to GASO or changes in advertising or changes in quitting help over the years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there has been a decrease in adult smokers from 34% in 1978 to 21% in 2009.

Smoking prohibition on airlines have spread to hospitals, restaurants, and parks. Cigarette advertising has significantly changed over the past 35 years. Television advertising of cigarettes is out. The most recent changes in the anti-tobacco comes from HHS –a comprehensive tobacco strategic action plan called “Ending the Tobacco Epidemic.” This plan includes the addition of graphic warning labels to cigarette packages.

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Despite progress, 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke, 40% of nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, and 443,000 deaths each year are attributed to smoking and secondhand smoke.

Tips on quitting smoking:

  1. Set a quit date. Consider this Thursday, November 18 -- the Great American Smokeout.
  2. Change your environment by removing ALL cigarettes and ashtrays from your home, car, and work place.
  3. Don't cheat – not even one puff! But if you do, don't take that as surrender. Keep trying.
  4. Seek support and encouragement, even if by phone. You can call toll free at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).
  5. See your doctor and ask about nicotine gum and or patches.

With nicotine replacements and counseling, quit rates at one year are 15 percent to 30 percent which is nearly twice that of those who try without help.

Falling off the wagon is typical. Three months, six months and a year are major milestones, and most people who can quit for a year will be able to stay off cigarettes for good.

Additional information and support for quitting is available online (http://www.smokefree.gov) or by telephone (800-QUIT-NOW [800-784-8669]; TTY 800-332-8615).

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