Quit Smoking with Support from the Great American Smokeout

November 14, 2017 6:00 AM

For the sake of your health, it’s time to kick your tobacco habit. That’s the American Cancer Society’s message during its annual Smokeout event.

The Great American Smokeout is an annual event planned by the American Cancer Society to encourage Americans to quit smoking.

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On this day, always the third Thursday in November, the ACS suggests smokers make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking on the day.

If you’re a smoker and you decide to stop in the days surrounding the Great American Smokeout, you’ll be among more than 1 million Americans who successfully quit smoking every year. Plus, you’ll reap all kinds of health benefits, some within days or weeks of putting down tobacco.

There are many reasons to stop smoking for your health. Among them, the American Heart Association lists these:

  • Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

  • Smoking causes more than one in five deaths in America — that’s more than 400,000 Americans each year.

  • Ninety percent of lung cancer in men is directly related to smoking, and smoking causes 80 percent of lung cancer in women.

  • Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries — which can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke.

Tips to quit for good

Susan Ryskamp, M.S., RDN, senior dietitian and tobacco treatment specialist with the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, offers these tips to help you kick the habit:

  • Prepare in advance by setting a “quit day.” Celebrate when that date comes.

  • Think about your tobacco behavior and identify what triggers your urges and cravings. Then, learn to separate yourself from the situations in which you used tobacco by changing your routine. Most people find the craving goes away within a short time. Until it does, don’t go back to your old routines.

  • Don’t fool yourself into thinking just one cigarette is OK. One cigarette will lead to another.

  • Find substitutions for tobacco: cinnamon toothpicks, crunchy snacks and water are good examples. Have reading materials on hand to keep your mind off tobacco and a stress ball to keep your hands busy.

  • Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Using a nicotine patch, gum or lozenge can reduce cravings for cigarettes. Prescription drugs are also available to help smokers quit. Some can be used with NRT, and some must be started before your planned quit day. E-cigarettes are not considered an approved form of NRT. Some may not have nicotine, but they may contain other carcinogens and hazardous chemicals.

  • Whatever method you choose, stay positive. Tell yourself you can kick the habit! 

For more on quitting smoking, visit the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society or U-M's MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service.