Just as Thanksgiving is held annually on the fourth Thursday of every November, The Great American Smokeout is held annually on the fourth Thursday of every November.

The Great American Smokeout was created in 1976 by the American Cancer Society with the idea that people don’t have to stop smoking in one day, just start with Day One. The event was designed to reflect what we all know about tobacco addiction – that quitting smoking isn’t easy; it takes time and it takes a plan.

According to recent studies, more than 20 percent of adults in Louisiana smoke compared to 17.1 percent nationally. Nicotine dependence, which is both physical and mental, is currently the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States.

Smoking is also the leading cause of preventable death in our country, killing more than 480,000 Americans, including 7,200 Louisianans annually. It results in more than 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure, since smoking doesn’t just kill, it can also lead to long-term health issues.

While quitting is hard, there are immediate benefits for those of all ages who stop smoking, including return to heart rate and blood pressure normality, improved circulation, improved lung function, and improved smell and taste.

Long term benefits to non-smokers include reducing the chance of dying prematurely from smoking related diseases by 60 percent, a lower risk of stroke, and improvement in overall physical appearance.

And, considering the current pandemic, quitting should be a priority for all smokers and vapers whose lungs may already be compromised, making them particularly susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19.

Free products and services are available from the Smoking Cessation Trust. See www.smokefreela.org or all 504-529-5665 or toll-free 855-259-6346 for information.

Today’s a great day to quit smoking. Every day without nicotine is a great day to be thankful for better health.

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