Great American Smokeout challenges smokers to quit

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Smokers, here’s a challenge for you: could you quite for at least an entire day?

That’s what the American Cancer Society challenged people to do Thursday, November 19 for their annual Great American Smokeout. Smokers were encouraged to stop smoking for at least a full 24 hours, with the idea of getting people to decide to quit for longer. Perhaps even for good.

“That’s really our goal,” said Shana Crews, Illinois Government Relations Director with the American Cancer Soceity Action Network. ” There’s no better day to make a choice for yourself to become healthier than today, and thinking about the Great American Smokeout, this is now the 45th anniversary just to remind folks, to really prioritize their health.”

She added that’s especially important during the time of COVID.

“I think if we’ve learned anything this year, that if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters, so do what you can to protect yourself.”

According to the American Cancer Society, 30% of all cancers in the state of Illinois can be directly attributed to smoking, and it causes an estimated 480,000 deaths across the nation each year. Smoking related diseases are another issue, and the society said roughly 16 million Americans live with those diseases. Crews said a lot of progress against tobacco had been made since the 1970’s, but that’s changed in recent years.

“You really have seen the reversal of that progress with more youths starting to use tobacco products, and the electronic cigarette really interrupting the progress that we were making on tobacco use,” said Crews. “And our concern and our plea with that is just making sure that we don’t want another generation to go through the ills that other have had.”

“From our perspective, what we know is that anything but fresh, clean air is harmful to your lungs and you need to be sure that you’re protecting them, you only get one set of lungs in your life, and so be sure to protect the asset that you have so that you can live a better and healthier life.”

She added it’s also important to do your annual cancer screenings. You can go here to see what screenings are available in your age range.

“It’s much better to catch these problems when they’re small and manageable, before they grow into much larger issues where you have limited options,” said Crews

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