Beginning Your Journey to Quit Smoking: Join the Great American Smokeout

Emma Hardy,
Health Educator at the Poe Center

Believe it or not, around 34 million American adults smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking can cause different types of cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and many more illnesses than can impact daily life. Since the 1960’s, rates of cigarette smoking have declined, but it has been a fight to get there. Quitting smoking is hard, and addiction is a disease, but you are not alone in your journey to choose to quit. That is why the American Cancer Society created the Great American Smokeout, an annual event on the third Thursday of November. 

It is never too late to decide to quit smoking. At any age, phase of life, or stage of addiction or other disease, quitting smoking will improve your health both immediately and long-term. Within days, you can experience a drop in heart rate, a return to normal blood-oxygen levels, and an improved sense of taste and smell. As years go on after quitting, your lung capacity can return to normal, and risk of heart attack and other heart diseases decreases drastically. Still, taking the first steps is hard and can be intimidating. 

The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity for people to pledge, alongside thousands of others, to quit smoking for good. The event took off in the 1970’s to support more Americans in their fight to quit, as smoking rates began to decline. Pledges can be taken at the individual level, or through a community group, business, health care provider, or with a group of people you trust and care about such as friends or family. It is hard to quit smoking or using tobacco but the Great American Smokeout presents the challenge and provides countless resources and tools to help with each individual journey. 

Nicotine addiction from smoking cigarettes is one of the strongest addictions that an individual can face, and it can happen to anyone. If you want to quit, it is important to educate yourself on the tools and resources available. To get started, below are organizations that can support someone on their journey to quitting:

  • QuitlineNC provides free cessation services to any North Carolina resident who needs help quitting commercial tobacco use, which includes all tobacco products offered for sale. This does exclude tobacco used for sacred and traditional ceremonies by many American Indian tribes and communities. Quit Coaching is available in different forms, which can be used separately or together, to help any tobacco user give up tobacco. Free 24/7 Support Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or text QUITNOW to 333888
  • This is Quitting – This first-of-its-kind program helps young people quit vaping, This is Quitting has helped over 600,000 youth and young adults on their journey to quit vaping. Learn more about how it works and view additional resources available for parents of young vapers as well as adults who want to quit. Teens and young adults can join for free by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709

These tools and any others that work for you as an individual are best used together. Supporting yourself through Nicotine Anonymous and support from friends or family is a great combination to help you quit smoking for good. It may not be easy, but the Great American Smokeout and the American Cancer Society can help you. The American Cancer Society is available 24/7 to provide support, or answer questions through their website or their helpline at 1-800-227-2345. Additionally, check out the Poe Center’s website for additional substance use prevention resources.

Featured Program: 

Vaping 101

Vaping 101 educates participants on the latest research about the addictive nature of nicotine and how it impacts their growing brain and body. This program will cover important resources and skills to empower healthy decision making to navigate through substance use issues. Participants will be engaged in a group game format, videos and discussion.

Program Participants:6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade
Program Length: 60 Minutes

#YouthCulture: E-cigarettes 101

This program addresses the growing concern of e-cigarette use among youth. Participants will explore consequences and health effects of e-cigarette use including its impact on adolescent brain development. This session includes the latest research, examines the risk factors for use, and the protective factors that help prevent use. A discussion on strategies to increase those protective factors and to support empowering youth to make healthy decisions will be covered. Participants will be equipped with tools and resources to support ongoing conversations.

Program Participants: Adults
Program Length: 75 Minutes

Plan a Program Today

Featured Resource: 

Smoking Cessation – 3 Steps to Quitting (video)

Three steps that you can take today to begin your smoking cessation journey and quit for good.

Watch the Video