Each year on the third Thursday of November, we join our partners at the American Cancer Society by promoting The Great American Smokeout, encouraging individuals to quit smoking for one day. The event challenges people to stop using tobacco and promotes resources that they can use to quit for good.
hero_image_alt_text===Picture of broken cigarette
thumbnail_alt_text===Great American Smokeout logo
“Smoking is responsible for nearly one in three cancer deaths,” according to Dr. Michael Keppen of Sanford Hematology and Oncology. “Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. Smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes are just as dangerous. Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have some means of support. The Great American Smokeout is a great way for people to take that first step to quit.”
Tobacco use is also a leading cause of heart disease and respiratory illness. Exposure to secondhand smoke in any setting, both indoors and outdoors, has been found to cause respiratory irritation and may trigger asthma attacks, as well as heart attacks.
“When I diagnose someone with COPD,” said Dr. Fady Jamous of Avera Medical Group Pulmonology, “or when I have to deliver the heart-wrenching news of a lung cancer diagnosis, they all say, ‘I wish I knew more. I wish I knew better.’ We owe it to our patients – and to their families – to help them quit tobacco. And just as important, we owe it to our children to ensure they never start.”
Both physicians agree that providing tobacco-free environments can support those wanting to quit and can encourage others to never start using tobacco.
“We have long known the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke,” Dr. Keppen said. “Since the Surgeon General’s report on the connection between smoking and disease more than 50 years ago, there have been countless studies affirming the dangers of tobacco use, and now, even third-hand exposure, which means exposure to those places where smoke settles, such as clothing and furniture or even park benches and picnic tables. Our local officials have an opportunity, even a responsibility, to protect the health and safety of our citizens by passing an ordinance creating tobacco-free city properties.”
Smoking cessation support includes nicotine replacement products, counseling, stop-smoking support groups, telephone smoking cessation hotlines, prescription medicine to lessen cravings, guidebooks, and encouragement and support from friends and family members. Using two or more of these measures to help smokers quit works better than using any one of them alone.
The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Live Well Sioux Falls, and the Sioux Empire Tobacco-Free Coalition (SET-Free Coalition) are supporting quitters, building awareness of the health and economic issues of secondhand smoke, and discouraging teenagers from starting. Quit Kits are available as part of the Great American Smokeout. Individuals interested in the Quit Kits can call the SET-Free Coalition at (605) 371-1000.