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The Great American Smokeout: Your Quit Day

Man holding arms up to blue skyExplore five smart moves to quit smoking during the Great American Smokeout on November 20.

If you're a smoker, quitting is the single most important step you can take to protect your health and the health of your loved ones. Smoking causes immediate damage to your body, and it threatens your future with increased risks for cancer, heart attack, lung disease, and early death. Many people have probably urged you to quit smoking already, but we all know that quitting can be hard.

That's where the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout can help. This event takes place on November 20 and encourages smokers to quit or to use the day to make a quit plan. Free help is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and at 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) (for Spanish speakers).

When you quit smoking during the Great American Smokeout, you have the support of many other people across the nation. And you're taking an important step towards a healthier life.

Five Ways to Get Ready to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking can be hard, so a good plan can help you get past symptoms of withdrawal. Five steps can help.

  1. Set a quit date. Choose the Great American Smokeout or another quit day within the next 2 weeks.
  2. Tell your family and friends you plan to quit. Share your quit date with the important people in your life and ask for support. A daily e-mail, text message, or phone call can help you stay on course and provide moral support. Plan a smokefree lunch date or game night to distract yourself. Or gather your family in the kitchen to cook a special meal together.
  3. Anticipate and plan for challenges. The urge to smoke is short—usually only 3 to 5 minutes. Surprised? Those moments can feel intense. Before your quit day, write down healthy ways to cope. Even one puff can feed a craving and make it stronger. Healthy choices include:
    • Drinking water
    • Taking a walk or climbing the stairs
    • Listening to a favorite song or playing a game
    • Calling or texting a friend
  4. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your home, car, and workplace. Throw away your cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays. Clean and freshen your car, home, and workplace. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.
  5. Talk to your pharmacist, doctor, or quitline coach about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum, or other approved quit medicines may help with cravings.
Amanda

Exercising helped Amanda quit smoking.

Infographic: Smoking and Pregnancy

Smoking can cause health problems for mothers and babies. View larger version [357 KB].

Amanda: "I'm not a smoker anymore!"

Amanda knew that stress would tempt her to smoke, and as the mother of young children, life was certainly unpredictable. So she planned new ways to manage stress and nicotine cravings. On her quit day, Amanda started exercising. To get through cravings, she used prayer, distraction, and positive self-talk, telling herself, "I'm not a smoker anymore!"

Amanda had learned about the dangers of smoking in a very personal and painful way with the birth of her first child. Amanda was in college, newly engaged, and smoking a pack a day when she learned she was pregnant. She tried to quit but couldn't beat the addiction. Her baby girl was born 2 months early and spent weeks in a hospital incubator. Amanda shared her story in CDC's national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers.

In Focus: Smoking, Pregnancy, and Babies

Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for a mother and baby. A baby may be born too early, have a birth defect, or die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Even being around cigarette smoke can cause health problems for a mother and baby.

Quitting smoking before getting pregnant is best. But for women who are already pregnant, quitting as early as possible can still help protect against some health problems, such as low birth weight. It's never too late to quit smoking.

It's also important to quit smoking for good. Babies who are around cigarette smoke have weaker lungs than other babies. They're also more likely to have other health problems and more frequent asthma attacks. Special quit guidance is available for pregnant women and their families at smokefreewomen.gov.

The Rewards of Quitting

People who quit smoking greatly reduce their chances for disease and early death. And although the health benefits are greater if you quit smoking at an earlier age, quitting is good for your health at any age. The Great American Smokeout is a day when everyone can find support to stop smoking for good.

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