Last Updated on by
November 19, 2020
It’s almost unfathomable to believe that big tobacco companies used to advertise cigarettes in national television commercials as recently as the 1950s. These ads promoted a culture of smoking that addicted generations of Americans.
In fact, it wasn’t until 1970 that the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act banned companies from advertising cigarettes on television.
Just a few years later, in 1977, the American Cancer Society (ACS) held it’s first annual Great American Smokeout event in San Francisco, a yearly intervention that’s endured for 41 years.
The Great American Smokeout is a starting point for millions of people who want to quit smoking, but don’t know how or have tried multiple times and failed. The ACS provides tools and resources to help individuals create a plan that encourages success.
Smoking is on the Decline, But…
Thanks to research and education, the number of people who smoke cigarettes has been in decline for decades. However, a staggering number of Americans still struggle with a serious dependency to nicotine. It’s an extremely addictive substance.
According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. still smoke cigarettes, along with 4.7 million middle and high school students.
Tobacco abuse remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in this country.
E-cigarettes (vapes) or smokeless alternatives, such as chewing tobacco, are also just as addictive and harmful as cigarettes. Unfortunately, a new, younger generation of smokers is coming out of the vaping-trend, which is often believed to be safer than smoking tobacco.
Some e-cigarettes, like the JUUL, are easily hidden from parents because they’re disguised to look like a run-of-the-mill thumb-drive.
As alternatives to cigarettes become more and more common, the Great American Smokeout has come to include a day free of vaping, hookah, smokeless tobacco and even marijuana.
Beating an addiction to nicotine is difficult because it changes the brain, and there’s little use in beating around the bush. For many people, it takes several attempts, but it is not an impossible task. The health benefits of quitting are almost immediate.
5 Steps to Quit Smoking
The CDC suggests five steps people can take to prepare for quitting during the Great American Smokeout:
1. Set a Quit Date
In this case, a quit date can be November 15, a day when millions of other smokers will be starting the same journey. Recovery is often more successful when people approach it as a team.
2. Inform Family and Friends of Your Intentions
Including a group of supportive loved ones is always a good idea when something is challenging, and it might be the key to making it through the difficult period of cravings.
3. Accept That It Will Be Difficult
Expecting physical discomfort, mood swings and other withdrawal symptoms can help people get through them. Plan to combat these issues with healthy alternatives, such as exercise, drinking lots of water, listening to music and knowing who to contact for emotional support.
4. Remove Any and All Tobacco Products
At least for a day, get rid of all tobacco products, smokeless or otherwise, from the house, care and workplace. Avoid going places, if possible, where people are smoking, vaping or using other tobacco products for at least a few days before to get acclimated to not smoking.
5. Talk to Your Doctor, Pharmacist or Therapist
Healthcare professionals not only provide emotional support, but they can also suggest treatments, patches, gums or other approved medications that may mitigate cravings. They are also well aware of the health risks of smoking and nicotine products and might provide positive reinforcement to help get through a tough day.
It’s important not to get discouraged. Take the opportunity to learn how quickly the body will bounce back from years of smoking and how quitting will add years of healthy living to your life.
The Great American Smokeout is the perfect time to quit smoking cigarettes or try again if it didn’t work in the past. You know can do it, and you will be better off for quitting.