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Smokers Making Plans To Quit for the Great American Smokeout


The American Cancer Society is encouraging smokers to use November 19th, 2009, the annual Great American Smokeout, as a date to make a plan to quit smoking.

Although a majority of smokers want to quit smoking, many delay making a plan to quit until the last minute, according to a recent ACS survey. 22% of smokers surveyed planned to quit within 24 hours, while 30% said they planned to quit within a week or two.

The online survey, conducted via the Great American Smokeout Website at www.cancer.org/GreatAmericans, also found that 77% of smokers surveyed have never used the available telephone hotline for smoking cessation counseling from a tobacco cessation coach, and 76% did not know that it was available at no cost to smokers who desire to quit.

Most of the smokers surveyed were interested in customized websites to help them quit and to receive professional advice by email. About 1/3 of respondents were not interested in using prescription medications for quitting, which the ACS feels is due to a lack of education on how nicotine replacement therapy and other smoking cessation medications can at least double the chance of quitting for good.

“Our survey findings show that there is much work that still needs to be done in educating smokers about the most effective ways to quit,” said Elizabeth T.H. Fontham, M.P.H., Dr. P.H., president of the American Cancer Society. “Smokers wishing to quit should seek out support from tobacco cessation coaches at state quitlines, from friends and family, and should understand the benefits of using medication to decide if it is right for them. The American Cancer Society hopes that smokers will use the Great American Smokeout on November 19 as the day to commit to a tobacco-free life. Doing so will help people stay well and celebrate more birthdays.”

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The American Cancer Society stresses the importance of planning ahead to quit smoking as research shows that preparing for quitting by allowing enough time to get nicotine replacement therapy, and planning how to deal with cravings and tempting situations, greatly increases the likelihood of succeeding.

The American Cancer Society created the Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day, and to encourage the commitment to a long-term plan to quit smoking for good. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, approximately 443,000 each year.

The Great American Smokeout Website contains user-friendly tips and tools to help smokers create a smoke-free life. The site also offers downloadable desktop helpers to assist with planning to quit and succeeding in staying tobacco-free. The Quit Clock allows users to pick a quit day within 30 days, then counts down the selected day with tips for each day; and the Craving Stopper helps smokers beat cravings by offering a fun distraction.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps towards a healthier life. 30% of cancer deaths, including 87% of lung cancer deaths, can be attributed to tobacco use. In addition, researchers have found that quitting smoking can increase life expectancy – smokers who quit at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy; those who quit at age 55 gain about five years; and even long term smokers who quit at 65 gain three years. The study can be found in the American Journal of Public Health [1]

Smokers who want to quit can call the American Cancer Society Quit For Life® Program operated and managed by Free & Clear® at 1-800-227-2345 for tobacco cessation and coaching services that can help increase their chances of quitting for good. The American Cancer Society website is www.cancer.org.

Journal reference:
[1] Taylor DH et al., Benefits of smoking cessation for longevity. American Journal of Public Health 92:990-996 (2002)