Did you participate in the Great American Smokeout Thursday, Nov. 18?

If not, and you’re a smoker, you can hold your own personal Smokeout today or tomorrow, or the next day.  

The idea behind the Smokeout is to get smokers to consider quitting.  

The American Cancer Society event is designed to help save lives by challenging people to stop using tobacco and informing them of resources available to help them stop smoking.

“Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.,” according to a past statement from South Georgia Medical Center. “Each year, smoking accounts for 443,000 premature deaths and 49,000 nonsmokers die as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. Half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die from smoking-related diseases.”

There is no getting around the fact that quitting tobacco is difficult.

It is an addiction.

Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have support that could include hotlines, quit groups, counseling, nicotine substitutes and prescription medication, according to the American Cancer Society.

The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew from a 1970 event in Randolph, Mass., where Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund, according to the ACS.

In 2012, the FDA published a list of harmful and potentially harmful constituents in tobacco products and tobacco smoke.

There may still be people who doubt the harmful, deadly effects of cigarette smoke.

They are wrong.

Smoking kills.

Smoking is responsible for nearly one in three cancer deaths, and one in five deaths from all causes, according to the ACS. Another 8.6 million people live with serious illnesses caused by smoking. Strong smoke-free policies, media campaigns and increases in the prices of tobacco products are at least partly credited for these decreases.

From 1965 to recently, cigarette smoking among adults in the United States decreased from more than 42% to about 18%.

Despite the clear facts, the Cancer Society has said about one in five adults smoke cigarettes  — more than 43.6 million people.

The American Cancer Society said, “Nearly 15 million people smoke tobacco in cigars or pipes. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. About 87% of lung cancer deaths in men and 70% in women are thought to result from smoking. Smoking also causes cancers of the larynx (voice box), mouth, sinuses, pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube) and bladder. It also has been linked to the development of cancers of the pancreas, cervix, ovary (mucinous), colon/rectum, kidney, stomach and some types of leukemia. Cigars and pipes cause cancers, too.”

Readers can visit www.cancer.org to learn more about quitting smoking, improving health or getting involved with the Great American Smokeout.

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