November 10, 2009
09-191

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Join the Great American Smokeout Nov. 19

VALDOSTA -- Join millions of Americans across the United States as they pitch their cigarettes and toss aside their chew cans during the 34th Annual Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 19.

VSU students and employees who pledge to quit during the informational fair from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the VSU front lawn may swap tobacco products for a chance to win a 16GB iPod Nano w/Video Camera or a 8GB iPod Touch. Non-smokers who commit to support a friend in their battle against addiction may also enter to win prizes.

At noon, students and employees are invited to wear a white shirt -- in honor of clean air -- and gather on the front lawn. Organizers will take a picture of the group as a visual example of the university’s support of the healthy decision to quit.

The American Cancer Society reports that people who commit to quit on a specific day are more likely to kick the habit for good. Some health effects of quitting are instant -- heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after putting down the tobacco product. After 10 smoke-free years, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of continuing smokers.

“We know that quitting smoking is tough and that most smokers have to try several times before quitting for good,” said Dr. Alan G. Thorson, the national volunteer president for the American Cancer Society. “We hope that smokers will use the Great American Smokeout to map out a course of action that will help them to quit, and in turn to stay well and celebrate more birthdays.”

Smokers who want to quit may call the American Cancer Society Quit For Life® Program operated and managed by Free & Clear® at 1-800-227-2345 for tobacco cessation and coaching services that can help increase their chances of quitting for good.

The Great American Smokeout Web site -- www.cancer.org/GreatAmericans -- contains user-friendly tips and tools towards a smoke-free life. In addition to tip sheets and calculators, the site also provides numbers for 24-hour hotlines and downloadable stop-craving tips and distraction games.

The American Cancer Society held the first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day. One million people quit smoking for a day at the 1976 event in California.

Important facts about tobacco use:
-- Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.
-- Cigarette smoking accounts for about 443,000 premature deaths -- including 49,400 in nonsmokers.
-- Thirty percent of cancer deaths, including 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, can be attributed to tobacco.
-- Smoking also accounts for $193 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses.

For more information about local Great American Smokeout activities and resources, go to www.valdosta.edu/finadmin/wellness/. VSU's smokeout event is sponsored by the Campus Wellness Committee, the Office of Health Promotions, and the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Education.