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Quitting Can Make You a Winner

Couple raising hands and holding hands while looking at sunset

You can quit smoking. Let the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout be your starting point.

Quitting smoking can be hard. But you have so much to win by quitting—lower risk for lung cancer and other diseases, easier breathing, more energy, and cleaner air. Start thinking of all the ways you can win when you begin a healthier, smoke-free life.

Today, there are now more former smokers than current smokers. You have the power to start your quit journey just like many others have already. Each year, The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout encourages all smokers to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking on a specific day.

Set Your Quit Date for November 16th

This year, the 42nd Great American Smokeout will be held on November 16 and will encourage the tens of millions of adults in the U.S. who currently smoke cigarettes to quit. If you smoke now, consider using this date to begin your quit journey. If you have tried to quit in the past but were unsuccessful, don’t give up. Quitting can be hard, and it might take you more than one or two times to succeed. One way to begin is by allowing others to support you. For example, you can participate in social media conversations, chat live with a counselor or call a quitline, or team up with friends, family, or co-workers for encouragement.

Broken cigarette lying on calendar

Setting a quit date puts you one step closer to your goal of quitting smoking.

Five Ways You Can Prepare to Quit Smoking

You’re taking an important step toward creating a healthier life when you set out to quit smoking. A good plan can help you get past symptoms of withdrawal. Take these five steps to help improve your success:

  • Set a quit date. Choose the Great American Smokeout or another quit day within the next 2 weeks.
  • Tell your family and friends about your quit plan. Share your quit date with the important people in your life and ask them for support. A daily phone call, e-mail, or text message can help you stay on course and provide moral support.
  • Be prepared for challenges. The urge to smoke is short—usually only 3 to 5 minutes, but those moments can feel intense. Even one puff can feed a craving and make it stronger. Before your quit day, write down healthy ways to help cope:
    • Drink water.
    • Exercise.
    • Listen to a favorite song or play a game.
    • Call or text a friend.
    • Get social support by joining @CDCTobaccoFree on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Sign up for SmokefreeTEXT for 24/7 help on your mobile phone.
  • 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.
  • Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum, or other approved quit medication can help.

Becky was diagnosed with COPD at age 45, but now remains smokefree.

In Focus: Smoking and COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis causing difficulty in breathing, lung airflow limitations, cough, and other symptoms. More than 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, but the same number may be living with COPD and not even know it. Most COPD is caused by smoking. There is no cure for COPD, but quitting smoking can slow down its progression.

Becky’s Story: Becky started smoking cigarettes in 1976 as an exchange student in Germany during her junior year of high school. She smoked to fit in with her host family members and her friends. Over time, she discovered she had trouble quitting. At age 45, Becky was diagnosed with COPD. Today, she needs continuous oxygen to help her breathe, but she’s grateful that she quit and can now help educate others about the dangers of smoking.

Becky’s story is included in CDC’s national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers® and in a video entitled “Becky’s Tip.”

Why Do You Want to Quit?

Perhaps you want to live a healthier life, live longer for your family members, or save the money that you’d typically spend on cigarettes. Write down your reasons for quitting, no matter what motivates you to make this decision. Refer to the list whenever you have the urge to smoke. It will help remind you of all the reasons you want to quit. Becky wanted to quit so that she would be around to see her two daughters enjoy life. She says, “Whenever I had a craving, I said to myself, ‘I choose not to smoke today.”

Be a Quitter!

On November 16, join the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout and millions of other smokers across the nation who also want to quit. Making the decision to quit can help you realize and appreciate your own determination! You have the strength it takes to quit smoking for good.

To learn more about this event, visit American Cancer Society—The Great American Smokeout.

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