For over 40 years, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. This is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives. According to recent data, about 34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes. It remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths each year, representing about 1 in every 5 deaths.
While the rates of cigarette smoking have declined over the past several decades (from 42% of the population in 1965 to 14% in 2019), the gains have been inconsistent. Some groups smoke more heavily or at higher rates and suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases. These populations tend to be those who experience inequities in multiple areas of their lives, including those at lower socioeconomic levels, those without college degrees, American Indians/Alaska natives, African American/Black communities, LGBTQ+ communities, those in the military, and those with behavioral health conditions.
Addiction to nicotine in cigarettes is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions out there. Thankfully, no matter your age or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting can improve your health both immediately and over time. People who use tobacco products are strongly advised to use proven cessation methods to quit, such as prescription medications and counseling. Also, research shows that people who smoke are most successful in their efforts to stop smoking when they have support, including getting advice from a doctor or pharmacist.
And if you’ve heard that switching to vaping can help in your cessation journey, know this: vaping, or use of e-cigarettes, is not a proven way to quit tobacco. In fact, e-cigarettes with nicotine are tobacco products, so if you vape nicotine, you are still using tobacco. Most people who try to quit smoking by vaping are not able to completely switch, which—according to the U.S. Surgeon General—is the only way to achieve the health benefits of quitting smoking.
Giving up smoking is a journey. It can be hard, but you can increase your chances of success with a good plan and support. Getting help through counseling and medications doubles or even triples your chances of quitting successfully. Thankfully, there are many resources available to Washingtonians when it comes to tobacco cessation. Here are some helpful resources to get you started on your cessation journey:
- Quitline: Washingtonians age 13+ can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to speak confidentially with a Quit Coach in English, Spanish, or receive support in more than 200 other languages.
- This is Quitting (TIQ), from Truth Initiative: This is an innovative text-to-quit vaping program for young people ages 13-24. TIQ helps motivate, inspire, and support young people throughout the quitting process. When young people join TIQ, they will receive proven tips and strategies to quit and stay off e-cigarettes and vapor products from other young people just like themselves who tried to quit. To enroll, teens and young adults can text VAPEFREEWA to 88709.
- 2Morrow Health: This is a smartphone app that helps participants learn new ways to deal with unhelpful thoughts, urges, and cravings caused by nicotine. Participants receive notifications and can track their progress along the way in order to move toward their goal of quitting. The app is available in English and Spanish. Depending on your age and the tobacco product you are trying to quit, you can register for either of the smartphone apps below:
- Smoking & Tobacco: A program for people who want to quit smoking and/or other tobacco use. A special program for pregnant women is included in this version.
- Vaping (age 13+): A program for teens and young adults who want to quit vaping. Older adults who want to quit vaping, but who do not smoke, can also use this program.
It can take several tries to quit for good, but the more times you try to quit, the more likely you are to succeed on your next try. So, remember: Never quit quitting.
For more information on how to quite, go to: https://www.doh.wa.gov/youandyourfamily/tobacco/howtoquit.