INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout. The premise is to encourage smokers to refrain from smoking for one day and use the date to, hopefully, make a plan to quit
Cristina McCall, 36, decided to quit at the beginning of October when her employer, Kaiser Heating and Air, issued an incentive, called a Quit Challenge.
“Our employer said if we quit and we needed help, that they would help us with patches or the gums, and they would reimburse us those costs if we stayed smoke-free for a year,” says McCall.
McCall was one of seven employees from four different departments to accept the challenge.
“Smoking, you always want to quit,” says McCall. “You always say you want to quit, but I think because so many of us said it and we’re all together 40 hours a week, 5 days a week, so we’re like ‘okay, if you quit, I quit.'”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 52 percent of current adult smokers say they tried to quit smoking in the past year, but only 6.2 percent of smokers say they were successful.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — a bit under 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2012, there were also 13.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.
These statistics are why the American Cancer Society continues to emphasize the importance of trying to quit through promotions like the Great American Smokeout.
“Its one day that’s set aside that we encourage people across America who are smoking to just stop for a day,” says Beverley Austin, Senior Representative for Community Engagement with the American Cancer Society. “If you can get through that first day, maybe you can get through the next day.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. About 87 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and 70 percent in women are thought to result from smoking.
How to Quit
The health benefits of quitting start immediately from the moment of smoking cessation. Quitting while you are younger will reduce your health risks more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.
The federal government has a website, Smokefree.gov, which provides free, accurate, evidence-based information and professional assistance to help support the immediate and long-term needs of people trying to quit smoking.
The state of Indiana also operates a telephone helpline called 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669), a free phone-based counseling service that helps Indiana smokers quit. The helpline provides one-on-one coaching for tobacco users.
“Say ‘I’m going to quit’ and take it one single hour at a time, because the temptation is always there, the craving is always there,” says McCall.