This year, the American Cancer Society will mark the 43rd annual Great American Smokeout® on Thursday, November 15. It’s an opportunity for everyone to take action and commit to healthy, smoke-free lives – not just for a day, but year-round.
Many of us know the devastating impact tobacco can have on someone’s health, and cigarettes are the most harmful tobacco products. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., accounting for 29% of all cancer deaths. And 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.
“If you smoke, the most important thing you can do to improve your health is to stop smoking cigarettes and other forms of combustible tobacco,” said Laurie Bertrand, the American Cancer Society’s Executive Director in Wisconsin. “But we know quitting smoking isn’t easy. That’s why we’re here to help you take those first steps toward making a plan to quit.”
While cigarette smoking rates have dropped from 42% in 1965 to 15.5% in 2016, about 37.8 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Each year, approximately 20 million try to quit. Only about 1.4 million succeed. An even greater percentage of smokers (68%) report being interested in quitting.
Quitting is hard. It takes commitment and starts with a plan, often takes more than one try, and requires a lot of support. Getting help through counseling and/or prescription medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully. Support is also important. Smoking cessation programs, telephone quit lines, the Society’s Freshstart program, Nicotine Anonymous meetings, self-help materials like books and pamphlets, and smoking counselors or coaches can be a great help.
“We want to help you and your employees be healthy and happy,” Bertrand added. “During this year’s Great American Smokeout, we hope everyone will join us – and encourage their friends, family, and neighbors to join us – in committing or recommitting to year-around, smoke-free lives.”
The American Cancer Society is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with information and support when people are making their plan to quit. Get more information at cancer.org/smokeout or by calling 1-800-227-2345.