A pair of hands lighting a cigarette with a lighter. The background is very dark. The Great American Smokeout

It’s the Great American Smokeout

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If you’ve been considering quitting smoking, let this be your sign!

Every year, the Great American Smokeout challenges people to stop smoking and raises awareness of available tools to help them quit smoking. The day was created by the American Cancer Society forty-six years ago. The first Great American Smokeout took place in November of 1976. On that day, one million people pledged not to smoke for that day. That’s right, a million! Since then, it has taken place on the third Thursday of November every year. 

Along with encouraging people to give up smoking, the Great American Smokeout has also contributed to new laws over the years. In 1977, Berkeley, California became the first community to limit smoking in public areas. In 1990, a federal law was passed to not allow smoking on flights that were less than 6 hours long. In 2017, tobacco companies began to be required to publish “corrective statements” via newspapers and commercials, detailing the deadly consequences of and additives in their tobacco products. 

Roughly 37.8 million Americans smoke cigarettes (this does not include vaping). More than 50% of those are expected to die from an illness related to their smoking. There are an array of side effects caused by smoking, including coughing, wheezing, increased phlegm, headaches, respiratory illness, lowered immune system, increased risk of diabetes, stained teeth, and a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, emphysema, COPD, and asthma. We all know that people who smoke are at increased risk of lung cancer, but they are also at higher risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, cervix, liver, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and colon. Smoking is the leading cause of cancer death at 29%. 

There are quite a few tools to help you quit smoking. 

  • Support groups
  • Hotlines
  • Nicotine replacements, like lozenges, gum, and patches
  • FDA-approved medication for smoking cessation
  • Coaching or counseling
  • Habit trackers (there are a lot of great apps, or you could use a physical tracker like a calendar) 

If you want to stop smoking and don’t know how, your doctor can help you figure out your best course of action. 

So, are you going to pledge to quit smoking on The Great American Smokeout this year? 

For more information and resource on The Great American Smokeout you can visit their website at cancer.org.

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Chris McMullen is an advocate for the LGBT community, sexual assault awareness, and recovery. He uses his own experience, and wisdom as a platform to help others.

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