November 15th is the Great American Smokeout. This day is set aside for smokers to try to quit smoking and take the first steps toward a healthier life. The Avera Heart Hospital is doing their part to help smokers put down their cigarettes for good.
It's a habit that has more than 45 million Americans hooked.
"I started when I was 16 and dove right in, I mean I was a smoker!" Said Erin McCord.
Or at least she was until 6 months ago. After several attempts at quitting, Erin and her husband decided it was time to put the fire out.
"We were both like we can't breathe, we're spending so much money on this and it feels like it controls you, you have to pace your day for when you can have a cigarette it becomes that line of demarcation and finally we were both like we're done!" Said McCord.
Aside from several different diseases, smoking can severely damage the air sacs in your lungs which makes it hard to breathe. Erin is doing a pulmonary function test to measure the amount of air she can inhale and exhale. After a few big puffs, Erin's numbers come back low. but they would have been much worse had she not kicked the habit.
"I feel good, I can tell. It doesn't take that long at all before you can tell, you can walk around without panting you know?" Said McCord.
The Avera Heart Hospital is trying to help other smokers become like Erin and actually enjoy a breath of fresh air. The hospital is hosting two tobacco cessation workshops with tips for quitting and support for those currently fighting the addiction.
"It's just about making people aware, and to stop and think about it. 7 out of 10 people who smoke think about quitting and want to." Said Respiratory Therapist Deb Murray.
Murray used to be a smoker herself. She says the best thing about the workshop is that it puts everyone on the same playing field and allows them to discuss ideas and learn from one another.
"The people that are first thinking about quitting smoking, I just want to get a little bit of info how am I going to start this? People who have just quit they want that added support and people who have quit for months but want that motivation to continue to go." Said Murray.
Deb says support is the most important thing to quitting successfully. Erin had her husband to help keep her on track but she also had a plan for taking it one day and one cigarette at a time.
"You need to identify your weak spots what's your pattern of when you smoke skip one of those times, one of your mealtime cigarettes, one of those before bed cigarettes, start that way start feeling it out." Said McCord.
It may take several tries to finally kick the habit for good but take it from both Deb and Erin, don't give up!
"If you make the commitment and keep trying you can be successful." Said Murray.
The tobacco cessation workshops will be held at the Avera Heart Hospital on Tuesday November 13th and Thursday November 15th. The classes run from 7-9pm. To register call 605-977-7000