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The Great American Smokeout: Campaign helps people kick the habit

Today might be the day to quit smoking. Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey shares why and the resources offered as part of a national campaign.

COVID-19 stirred up all sorts of stressors for all sorts of people, and for smokers, maybe even caused them to light up even more.

If you’ve ever considered quitting, a national movement underway on Thursday, November 19, could help.

Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey highlighted the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout."

The campaign has been going on for four decades. It happens on the third Thursday in November. 

So many of you also shared your stories and struggles surrounding smoking with Ryan as part of a social media conversation. 

It’s no question that during this pandemic, being able to put down those cigarettes is not easy. To help people kick the habit, The American Cancer Society launched the ‘Great American Smoke Out.” Its goal is to help all sorts of people in all sorts of places quit smoking. 

Local healthcare groups are also on board with the campaign that’s now 40 years strong. 

"It challenges folks to go tobacco-free for twenty-four hours. The goal of today is to inspire people to start thinking about quitting for the long term," said certified Geisinger Health Coach Tina Letter.

Tina helps patients virtually on a variety of topics ranging from tobacco cessation to weight loss, just to name a few. Tina shared a few tips to quit with Newswatch 16 including for those “social smokers” who light up when they’re drinking or just hanging out with certain friends.

"What are your tips to kind of calm those triggers?" Ryan asked.

Tina replied, "There is kind of three A's you can go through. You can avoid your triggers altogether. So, alter your routine, kind of change things up, or find alternatives to your triggers. So avoiding would be not going outside with your co-workers for a smoke break. Altering your routine by putting your cigarettes in the trunk of your car or taking a different route, if you always pass by the gas station you purchase them at. Alternatives would be finding alternative means for stress relief, getting involved in a hobby that keeps your hands busy, or if you need to occupy your mouth, try mint-flavored toothpicks, sugar free gum, try to avoid cookies, cakes, candies, things like that."

Besides the three A’s, here’s another go-to option: 

"One of the best resources anyone can use in Pennsylvania is one 800-QUIT-NOW. It's the Pennsylvania free quitline. When you call that number, you're immediately connected with resources, professional resources, things that you can use in that moment. And they will also provide you tools and tips for along the way," Letter said. 

Using technology on your smartphone to help you quit is another idea: 

"Oh, absolutely. There are dozens and dozens of mobile applications and websites that help you track your progress as you quit. One of the things many people don't realize about quitting is within the first twenty four hours of quitting, you've already reduced your risk of a heart attack. And a lot of these apps and websites will tell you your timeline. You've reduce your risk by this. You've saved this much money. So there are so many resources and tools at your fingertips.

Quitting can be really challenging, especially during a stressful time. But with support and a plan and process, it can make the whole experience a little bit easier along the way."

Resources to kick the habit: