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Today is the 33rd Great American Smokeout, and the American Cancer Society continues its legacy of providing free resources to help smokers quit.
The Great American Smokeout was inaugurated in 1976 to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for one day. Now, 44.2 percent of the 45.3 million Americans who smoke have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year, and the Great American Smokeout remains a great opportunity to encourage people to commit to making a long-term plan to quit for good.
With all the resources available to help smokers quit, there has never been a better time to quit smoking, and the American Cancer Society is here to help. If you smoke, make a plan and set today as your quit date. By calling the American Cancer Society Quitline at (800) 227-2345, people who plan to quit will be able to speak with a trained counselor and receive free, confidential counseling.
Studies have found that Quitline can more than double a person's chances of successfully quitting tobacco. Callers to Quitline can be connected with smoking cessation resources in their communities, social support groups, Internet resources, and medication assistance referrals. Since its inception in 2000, Quitline has provided counseling support to more than 380,000 smokers.
The American Cancer Society offers other free resources through Quitline and at www. cancer.org/GreatAmericans that can increase smokers' chances of quitting successfully, including tips and tools for friends, family and coworkers of potential quitters to help them be aware and supportive of the struggle to quit smoking.
Studies show the importance of social support in quitting smoking, as people are most likely to quit smoking when their friends, family, and coworkers decide to quit smoking.
Popular online social networks such as Facebook and MySpace are also becoming support channels for people who want to quit, and American Cancer Society Smokeout-related downloadable desktop applications are available on these networks to help people quit or join the fight against tobacco.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that social networks are helpful in quitting smoking. “Friends and family can help the most by being aware and supportive of the struggle to quit, and the American Cancer Society has resources to help them show support for their loved one who is trying to quit,” the periodical reported.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Each year, smoking accounts for an estimated 438,000 premature deaths, including 38,000 deaths among nonsmokers as a result of secondhand smoke.
Half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die from smoking-related diseases.
Also imperative in this effort to encourage people to quit smoking are smoke-free laws and higher tobacco taxes which make it harder for people to smoke, and protect nonsmokers from tobacco smoke.
The majority of U.S. communities are now covered by smoke-free laws, while 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have raised tobacco taxes since 2000. Smokers nationwide now face an average cost of $4.32 for one pack of cigarettes, not including all taxes.
The rising cost of living is also affecting smokers, as the cost of cigarettes presents an even greater burden. Smoke-free workplace laws and other tobacco control legislation, supported by the society and its nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, help protect Americans from secondhand smoke and encourage smokers to quit.
For more information anytime, call toll free (800) ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. For local information, call Jan Sprinkle, coordinator of the Perry County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Committee, at 547-3435, Ext. 236.