DEAR ABBY: Thursday, Nov. 17, will mark the American Cancer Society's 29th Annual Great American Smokeout. It's a day when millions of smokers will put down their cigarettes -- "just for one day" -- with the conviction that if they can last 24 hours without a cigarette, then they can do it for 48 hours, 72 hours, and stop smoking for good.
For nearly three decades, the American Cancer Society has designated the third Thursday of November as a day for smokers nationwide to unite and kick the deadly habit of smoking. On that day, we urge people who smoke to, instead of lighting up, put down that cigarette and call us for support in "staying quit" for good.
If you're a smoker, the smartest thing you can do to improve your health and longevity is to quit smoking. The American Cancer Society Quitline can help you double your chances of success.
We also advocate for policies that help smokers quit, such as insurance coverage for tobacco cessation programs and smoke-free workplace laws. Research shows that smoke-free workplace laws not only encourage smokers to quit, but also protect non-smokers from exposure to secondhand smoke -- a known health hazard.
Please, Abby, help us to spread the word that quitting smoking is one of the healthiest decisions your readers can make. It can save their lives. Studies have shown that smokers who quit by age 35 will avoid 90 percent of the risk attributable to tobacco, and people who quit smoking before age 50 have one-half the risk of dying in the next 15 years compared to those who did not quit. -- STEPHEN F. SENER, M.D., PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
DEAR DR. SENER: I'm delighted to help you spread the word. The Great American Smokeout is something that I and my mother before me have been pleased to promote since 1985.
Readers, I hope you will take this important opportunity to heart. More people die from lung cancer than from any other form of cancer. Quitting smoking has never been easier because medications are now available that help to suppress the symptoms of craving and withdrawal.
Call the American Cancer Society's 24-hour toll-free Quitline -- 877-937-7848 (YES-QUIT) -- to be connected with counseling services in your community, provided with self-help materials that offer information and strategies on quitting for good, and receive information about current medications available to help you quit. All services are free and provided 24/7. You can also go to � HYPERLINK "http://www.cancer.org/smokeout" ��www.cancer.org/smokeout�.
So, folks, if you have been promising yourselves that "one of these days" you were going to quit, why not start on Thursday, just for 24 hours? I can't think of a better Thanksgiving gift you could possibly give yourselves and the people who love you.
And, now, I'd like to ask a favor, please. If you quit on Thursday -- even for only 24 hours -- let me hear from you. I'd love to know how long you were able to stay clean. Good luck; I'm rooting for you! -- Love, Abby