The Great American Smokeout 2021

Virginia Johnson
Substance Use Prevention Director

The American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout every third Thursday of November for almost half a century to raise awareness on the immediate and long lasting health effects of quitting smoking, challenge people to stop smoking, and help spread the word about tools and resources to help people successfully quit.  

Smoking rates in the United States have been on the decline, but smoking is still the leading cause of cancer and continues to be a contributing factor in 1 out of every 5 deaths. Some people may ask, can quitting smoking today really improve my health?  And the answer is yes, yes and most definitely—yes.  Quitting smoking and vaping tobacco products has both immediate and long term health benefits. 

In fact, the benefits of quitting smoking start immediately with a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, not to mention better-smelling breath, hair, and clothes. After a few days, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal. A few weeks later, circulation improves, sense of smell returns to normal, and food begins to taste better. After a few months, coughing and shortness of breath both decrease. After 5-10 years, risks of certain cancers are cut in half. And after 15 years, your risk of heart disease is close to that of a nonsmoker. Visit the American Cancer Society to learn more on the numerous health effects of quitting vaping, smoking, and other tobacco products.

E-Cigarette Use is on the Rise

Although traditional cigarette smoking is on the decline, electronic cigarette use is on the rise. Electronic cigarettes, often referred to as e-cigarettes, e-cigs, or vapes, are electronic devices that heat a liquid containing nicotine and special flavors to produce an aerosol that is breathed into the lungs. 

The increase in e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction rates among teens is particularly concerning. In the 2019 North Carolina Tobacco Prevention Survey, 9% of all high school students and 30% of current e-cigarette users reported finding it hard to get through the school day without vaping and 25% of current e-cigarette users reported wanting to use a tobacco product within 1 hour of waking up.

Start the Conversation about Quitting

There are lots of resources to help support both teens in tobacco cessation efforts. If you, or a loved one, needs help to quit smoking, visit or call 1-800-Quit-Now. QuitlineNC provides resources, tools, and tips for those on the path to quitting smoking including free cessation services and coaching.  Other resources include SmokeFreeTeen where both teens and parents can find information and resources to quit vaping. A great resource for parents is How to Talk to Your Child About Vaping from the American Lung Association.

Quitting vaping, smoking, and other tobacco products may not be easy but you can and there is support. The American Cancer Society has a saying, “You don’t have to stop in one day but you can start in one day.” offers these tips as you manage the nicotine withdrawal. 

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As we pause to think about all the things we are thankful for in our lives, take time to support loved ones who are choosing a tobacco-free lifestyle and let them know you are proud of them. Share resources and check out these additional tips from the American Cancer Society on the Do’s and Don’ts of helping family and friends quit smoking.  


Featured Poe Program: Vaping101

Participants: Middle and High School students
Program Lengths: 60 minutes

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.

Programs may be presented online and are great for participating from home. Call (919) 231-4006 or visit for details.

 Featured Upcoming Event: #Youth Culture: E-Cigarettes

Date: Tuesday, November 16th, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Open to the Public – Adults Only

Join the Johnston County Substance Use Prevention Coalition and the Poe Center to learn about the impacts of tobacco and vaping on our youth. 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 program will be held on Tuesday, November 16th, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

This event will be held ONLINE, and is free. This workshop is for parents/caregivers and concerned adults.

Register here. 


Featured Upcoming Event: Johnston County Youth Tobacco Prevention Workshop

Date: Thursday, November 18th, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Youth age 12-18

Join the Johnston County Substance Use Prevention Coalition and the Poe Center to learn more about the harmful effects of vaping and how you can make change. This workshop will be held on Thursday, November 18th, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

This event will be held ONLINE, and is free. This workshop is suited for youth ages 12-18.

Register here.