Great American Smokeout Today

By Stephanie A. Wilken, Sun Staff Writer
November 19, 2009

For Yumans who’ve been looking for an excuse to put out their cigarettes, today could be the day.

The Great American Smokeout helps make people aware of the many tools they can use to quit for good. PHOTO: Randy Hoeft/Yuma Sun

Thursday is the Great American Smokeout, and for more than 30 years, Americans have been using the day to help aid them in quitting smoking.

According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2008, about 20 percent of Americans smoke, or about 46 million people. According to the survey, an estimated 20.8 million people had stopped smoking for one day or more during the preceding 12 months because they were trying to quit.

In Arizona, residents have a valuable resource, said Stephen Michael, Director of the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine), where residents can call and receive support to help them stop smoking.

The free helpline is funded by tobacco tax dollars, with some funding from the CDC Michael said.

By participating in the Great American Smokeout, Michael said quitting with others can help a smoker.

“It’s nice to have people you know who are going through the same thing as you are,” Michael said.

And just knowing that others are doing it too can also be a big encouragement.

“That’s the first step to quitting forever,” he said. “A lot of times people want to quit, but they’re not that ready.”

The first thing that happens when calling the ASHLine, Michael said, is the caller receives an assessment on where he or she is in their commitment to quitting. That way, the coach can help the person determine a plan, he said.

Each caller gets his or her own personal quit coach and some, Michael said, are former smokers.

The caller will receive a “quit kit,” Michael said, with information about how to get started, and the quit coach will work through activities included in the kit with the caller.

They’ll also receive two weeks worth of either the nicotine patch, gum or the lozenges to help them quit, Michael said. “So everybody’s eligible,” he said.

Arizona residents enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment (AHCCCS) system will receive 12 weeks worth of an FDA-approved method of quitting, Michael said.

Michael said the ASHLine is a great support network, and no one is going to judge a smoker if things are a little rougher than he or she thought it was going to be.

Sometimes, he said, people do slip up.

And if people can quit for 90 days, Michael said it’s much easier for them to quit for a year.

To reach the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline,or Ashline, call 1-800-55-66-222 or visit The phone line is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. on Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m on Saturdays.

For those who might still be on the fence about quitting, Michael said they’ve already contributed to the resource by purchasing tobacco in Arizona. “This is the time to use it,” he said. “Technically, you’ve already paid for it, so take advantage of it.”

Source: Yuma Sun online.

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