If you or a loved one smokes cigarettes, consider joining the movement, and take the first step towards quitting cigarettes forever! The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smoke-out on the third Thursday of November, challenging smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours.

Every year the Great American Smoke-out draws attention to preventing deaths and chronic illnesses caused by smoking. From the late 1980s to the 1990s, many state and local governments have raised taxes on cigarettes, limited promotions, discourage teen cigarette use, and taken further action to counter smoking. States with strong tobacco controls laws saw up to a 42% decrease of smoking in adults.

If you’ve smoked for any length of time, you know that quitting is not easy.

Tips to quit

1. Make a plan and set your quit date.

2. Make a list of the reasons you want to quit.

3. Alert your family and friends of your plan to quit smoking.

4. Get support – Call the Tennessee Tobacco Quitline (800-784-8669).

The Quitline is free and offers one-on-one counseling, coaching, and support. You can also use the Quitline online at www.tnquitline.org. The Quitline offers extra support and counseling for pregnant women who smoke.

5. Throw out all tobacco-related products.

6. Identify what triggers your cravings and make a plan to avoid them.

7. Change your routine.

8. Reward yourself!

Celebrate each day you make progress toward quitting smoking. Check out the Smoke Free app for IOS and Android. The app tells users how much time has passed since they last smoked, how much money the user has saved, how many cigarettes have been avoided, and how much the user’s health is improving.

9. Exercise!

10. Calculate your savings.

Put the money you would spend on tobacco products into a jar. Kicking a pack-a-day habit adds up to nearly $2,000 in one year and nearly $10,000 in five years. Plan a fun vacation with some of the savings!

Though smoking rates have dropped, almost 38 million Americans still smoke tobacco, and about half of all smokers will encounter smoking related deaths. Each year, more than 480,000 people in the United States die from a smoking related illness, meaning smoking causes 1 out of 5 deaths in the US alone.

When you have achieved your goal of quitting smoking, the health benefits are both immediate and ongoing.

Did you know. . .

• Within 20 minutes of having your last cigarette, your blood pressure drops.

• After 24 hours, your chances of having a heart attack start to decrease.

• After one year of quitting, the risk of getting coronary heart disease drops sharply.

• After five years of quitting, the risk of getting mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder cancer is cut in half.

Fun facts

Gwyneth Paltrow: The Academy Award-winning actress smoked frequently as a teen and didn't decide to quit until she was pregnant with her first child.

Barack Obama: The former president quit with the help of Nicorette ​gum, hoping to set a good example for his daughters.

Jennifer Aniston: The "Friends" star quit smoking successfully by turning to yoga and other exercise to keep her mind off of cigarettes.

Mila Kunis: The actress admitted she used cigarettes as a way to slim down for her role in "Black Swan," but has since given up the habit. ​

Healthy Kingsport would like to know if you as an individual, your organization, or faith-based congregation is on a journey to stop tobacco use. We have many local resources that can be shared to help you kick the habit. Send an email to abanks@healthykingsport.org, and you’ll be connected to the various organizations that can help you reach this goal.