Thursday is the 33rd annual Great American Smokeout Day.
“If you quit for a day, we hope you’ll quit for a lifetime,” said Susan Lease, director of the Quay County ASAP Coalition, or the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.
Smokers as well as people who chew smokeless tobacco are also being encouraged to quit for a day, Lease said.
In fact, people who chew are becoming more numerous because they substitute chewing for smoking because there are fewer places that allow smoking.
What makes chewing even more onerous is that people are swallowing the tobacco because there are not that many socially acceptable places to spit, Lease said.
ASAP prevention specialist Corrina Mayoral said she smoked for one year until she began dating her now-husband.
“He said he didn’t like the smell and ‘they turn me off. ‘He saved my life. At that time he was my boyfriend,” Mayoral said.
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,” according to a press release from the America Cancer Society.
In Quay County the numbers are still high, Lease said.
It’s uncertain why people continue smoking despite the risks of lung cancer and other health problems.
It could be because it’s cowboy country.
But “there’s nothing left of the Marlboro man — just his cowboy hat and boots,” Lease said.
The model for the Marlboro man died of cancer, Lease said.
“Many of our clients say it is very hard to quit. But we have classes and NRT (nicotine replacement therapy), that are free,” Lease said.
Also, studies show that those who quit had to try several times before they kicked the habit, Lease said.
In 2007, the proportion of current everyday smokers who tried to quit was 53.1 percent among ages 18-24 years, 39.9 percent among ages 25-44 years, 38.1 percetn among 45-64 year olds and 25.3 percetn among those 65 years and older.
In 2007, 39.8 percent (13.4 million) adult current everyday smokers had stopped smoking for more than one day in the past 12 months because they were trying to quit.
Among the estimated 86.8 million adults who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (defined as ever smokers), 52.1 percent (47.3 million) were no longer smoking at the time of the interview.
Call ASAP for a schedule of classes beginning in January, 461-4922.
Or, call 1-800-QUIT NOW