While regional and national tobacco awareness campaigns have generated healthy gains over the years, the adverse impacts of smoking and second hand smoke on public health remain statistically staggering (US Center for Disease Control 2011). For many smokers, quality of life, personal finances and feelings of self-worth are still exchanged daily for tobacco use (www.smokefree.gov). As documented by the Division of Periodontology, University of Minnesota, as a mood and behavior altering chemical, nicotine is as addictive as heroin. The challenge for each individual smoker is that quitting is not just as simple as putting the cigarette away.
The Great American Smokeout (GASO) has been held nationwide every third Thursday in November since 1977. Started based on successful local efforts in Massachusetts and Minnesota, GASO encourages smokers to join a supportive nationwide community of others with a desire to quit tobacco, providing a psychologically stimulating starting date, resources and ongoing support for a vital lifestyle change. This year’s Great American Smoke Out is November 17, 2011.
Quitting smoking requires planning, personal commitment and support. Psychological, physiological and social impacts must be managed with care and attention to mood shifts, weight gain and cravings to smoke. A solid plan is highly recommended, including replacement of smoking activity with water, exercise, monitored food related rewards and new social connections. Create a smoker’s quitting survival pack with a commemorative water bottle, a pedometer and a bag of buttermints and make November 17, 2011’s Great American Smokeout the day you started to break the cycle of nicotine dependence forever.