Thursday marks the American Cancer Society's 37th Annual "Great American Smokeout." On the third Thursday in November smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout. GASO is a day for smokers to quit for the day, set their quitting goals, or say goodbye to tobacco forever. It's also a time to raise awareness during National Lung Cancer Awareness Month to warn about the dangers of smoking.
The American Cancer Society says tobacco is the largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. They also say people who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. The ACS says cigarette smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer and accounts for 80% of all lung cancer deaths. They say in South Dakota this year, 620 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and 400 people will die from lung cancer.
Every year the ACS says more than half of all smokers in the country attempt to quit smoking and over two-thirds say they would like to quit. If you have a loved one who is trying to quit the ACS says there are several things you can do to help. First they say make your house smoke free. Remove all lighters, cigarettes, ash-trays or other items that may lead to slips. Ask other smokers to leave if they choose to smoke. If you are a smoker yourself, do so away from the quitter or make quitting a team effort. Keep things like gum, hard candy or veggies handy for munching when cravings arise. Distract the quitter by spending time together - go for a walk, see a movie, or try something new together. Be encouraging and positive - even if they slip up , it may just be a road bump on the way to a smoke-free lifestyle. Remind the quitter of the reasons they tried quitting in the first place.
There are also things the ACS says you should avoid. They say don't doubt the quitter's ability to give up smoking. Don't nag, preach or scold. Negativity might drive your loved one to reach for a cigarette to help them calm down. Don't offer advice, as tempting as it can be. Ask how you can help with the quit plan they've made. Don't assume that if your quitter "slips", or takes a puff or smokes a cigarette, that they will start smoking like before. Slipping is common when a person is quitting. Instead they say help them get back on track by encouraging them.
The American Cancer Society has resources, information, and support available at cancer.org or by calling the Society 1.800.227.2345. There is a link you can use on the left side of your screen.