It’s the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, an annual effort to encourage smokers to quit for the day or to make a plan to quit.
Agency spokeswoman Peggy Huppert says in the early 1970s, more than 40% of adult Nebraskans smoked cigarettes or cigars. Today, that figure has dropped to about 20%.
“We still think that’s too high,” Huppert says. “We have a lot of emphasis on helping people quit because of the harm that is caused. It is the number-one preventable cause of death and disease.”
Smoking is blamed for roughly 80% of all lung cancer cases in the U.S. and lung cancer is the leading cause of death among all forms of cancer.
Despite the extreme risks associated with smoking, thousands of Nebraskans have trouble quitting.
“It’s extremely hard to quit smoking. Nicotine is the most addictive substance known to humans, more addictive than crack, meth or any illegal drug,” Huppert says. “The average person has to try seven times to quit smoking before they’re successful.”
“Within 30 days of quitting, your health can improve significantly and it will add years to your life,” Huppert says. Statistics from the American Lung Association show nearly 20% of all adults in Nebraska smoke and 15% of high school aged teens light up. Data also shows that 70% of the 45-million smokers nationwide say they want to quit.
Learn about the steps to take to quit smoking, with resources and support, at 800-227-2345 or the website: www.cancer.org