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Quit for a day, quit for life. It's the Great American Smokeout.

Quit for a day, quit for life. It's the Great American Smokeout.

Nov. 17, 2021

By Jhanvee Patel

Smoking is the most preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S. In fact, smoking leads to more than 480,000 deaths annually. West Virginia has the highest smoking and tobacco usage rate in the U.S. The national smoking rate is 15.9% of adults. The rate for West Virginia is 23.8% of adults. Are you contributing to this statistic?

Smoking causes damage to almost every organ in your body. It leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory diseases, cancer and more. People who smoke have on average a 10-year shorter lifespan. Quitting smoking leads to a healthier, happier and longer life. You can find more statistics here and facts here.

As the end of the year approaches, smokers in West Virginia should be encouraged to consider quitting. Always held on the third Thursday in November, the Great American Smokeout falls on Nov. 18 this year. This annual intervention by the American Cancer Society urges smokers to try quitting for one day. 

The truth is that quitting is difficult. However, it is not impossible. The point of the Great American Smokeout is that if you can quit for one day, you can see how it is possible to quit for two days, three days, a week, a month, a year and a lifetime.

If you don’t want to quit for just the day, take the time to plan. Making a comprehensive plan and sticking to is crucial in ensuring your success. Here are tips to help you plan:

• Write down why you are quitting on a piece of paper and keep it with you while you are going through the process. When you struggle, look at the piece of paper.
• Plan your quit day on an important day like a birthday or anniversary to make it special. If the day has significant meaning, it can motivate you to keep going.
• Gather support from your loved ones. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and will keep you on track. Stay away from others who might tell you otherwise such as smokers who don’t want to quit. This will keep you determined.

Consider how to fight cravings. There are many techniques, such as the 4D’s — such as drinking water, deep breathing, doing an activity or delaying. Wait for five minutes… and then another five and keep on going.

Finding what works for you could be critical in fighting the urge to smoke.

At Monongalia County Health Department, we take smoking cessation seriously. A visit to MCHD Dentistry includes a thorough mouth exam and tobacco cessation education. Staffers at the MCHD Women, Children's, and Infants (WIC) program also emphasize not smoking to pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding participants.

There are many resources in West Virginia to assist you as well. A quick internet search will result in millions of options. One of the resources is the WV Tobacco Quitline. You can get counseling and quitting aids. You can also visit the Great American Smokeout website for resources as well. There are also resources for you if you want to support someone. 

You are not alone in your struggle. You’ll be joining thousands who also want to change their lifestyle on Nov. 18. New Year’s is around the corner as well. If you have the motivation to quit smoking, consider making it your New Year’s resolution. Remove yourself as a statistic in West Virginia. Take a step forward in your journey towards a smoke-free life.

Jhanvee Patel is an intern in the public information office at Monongalia County Health Department.

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