It Takes a Community: The Great American Smokeout 2022

Virginia Johnson
Certified Prevention Specialist
Senior Substance Use Prevention Director

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Almost 70% of adults who smoke report that they want to quit, and almost 60% of 15-24 year olds report wanting to quit vaping within the year. To support those who want to quit, the American Cancer Society hosts the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year.

Although traditional combustible cigarette use has been on the decline, youth e-cigarette use has increased significantly in the past ten years. Kimberly Leiva-Sorto, a senior at South Garner High School and member of the Poe Center Youth Empowerment Team shares, “One of the things that concerns me most is how many of my peers still don’t know what is actually in a vape, some of them think it’s water vapor.” Learn about what is really in a vape here. There is more education needed on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes use both to the individual using and on the secondhand effects to prevent initial use.

Learn about how environments full of tobacco advertisements affect Wake County youth.

Once someone starts using tobacco products, quitting is not easy. Nicotine is the highly addictive drug found naturally in tobacco and is found in both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The younger a person is when they first try an addictive substance, the easier it is for addiction to take hold. As the brain is still developing, it is easier for an addictive substance, such as nicotine, to trick and rewire the brain into thinking the body needs the substance to survive. It begins to feel similar to how the body needs food or water.

It takes a coordinated effort to support those who want to quit. Successful cessation, or quitting, includes easy access to resources, support from friends and family, evidence-based treatment, and an environment that supports cessation. Combining counseling and nicotine replacement therapy medications can more than double the chances of successfully quitting. In person counseling, text messaging, and web-based cessation interventions can help in addition.

Belonging to a community that promotes smoke-free and vape-free environments can increase the success of cessation efforts. Tobacco-free parks, public spaces, apartment complexes, and places of employment support a healthier community that protects our youth from starting and supports those who are quitting.

There are resources to support both teens and adults in tobacco cessation efforts. If you or a loved one need help to quit smoking, visit QuitlineNC 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. Another great resource for teens is a text-based cessation support accessed by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709. 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.

Help those around you who want to quit by sharing resources and letting them know you support them. The American Cancer Society has a saying, “You don’t have to stop in one day, but you can start quitting in one day.”

Additional Resources offers these tips as you manage the nicotine withdrawal.

Featured Poe Program – Vaping 101

Participants: Middle and High School students
Program Length: 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 in person or online. Call (919) 231-4006 or visit for details.

Plan a Program Today

Upcoming Events:

Press Conference to Announce New Regulation that Completes Final Stage of Wake County Tobacco-Free Ordinance Implementation
Poe Center Honors Great American Smokeout by Recognizing County Tobacco-Free Initiatives

Stay tuned to The Poe Center’s Facebook page at 9:00 a.m., Thursday November 17, 2022, to view the press conference.