Nov 21, 2019 9:00 AM

It’s no surprise that many people who smoke want to quit. Smoking-related illness is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. It results in 85% of lung cancer cases in the country and causes 480,000 deaths every year.

More than 37.8 million Americans continue to smoke tobacco every day, and about 70% of those people say they want to stop. But quitting smoking is not easy. More than 90% of smokers who quit successfully needed help to get there.

The annual nationwide Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to make a quit plan and offers resources to help. According to the American Cancer Society, the event “is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives—not just for a day, but year round.”

The original Great American Smokeout started in 1970 in Randolph, Massachusetts, when a guidance counselor at Randolph High School suggested people give up smoking cigarettes for one day. People taking part donated the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a college scholarship fund for students. The event had great support from the town of Randolph, and three years later, the American Cancer Society came on board. In 1977, the American Cancer Society made the Great American Smokeout a nationwide event that takes place every year on the third Thursday in November.

The Great American Smokeout is a great day to celebrate smoke-free policies such as the University of Utah’s tobacco-free status. On July 1, 2018, all of campus became tobacco-free, including Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI).

HCI patients who want to quit can take part in a free Tobacco Cessation Program. This program is open to any HCI patient who smokes tobacco, chews tobacco, or vapes. The program offers counseling as well as medicine to help patients meet their goals of quitting or cutting back tobacco use. Appointments take place in the Center for HOPE on the first floor of the HCI north research building. Patients who live far from HCI may be able to have appointments by phone.

HCI experts recommend lung cancer screening for certain people with a history of smoking who are at high risk for lung cancer. Learn more about lung cancer screening guidelines, and talk to your doctor about whether the screening is right for you.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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