• 37°

Thursday, Nov. 19 is ‘Great American Smokeout’

Special to The Daily News

The Great American Smokeout (GASO) is held annually on the third Thursday of every November and was created in 1976 by the American Cancer Society with the idea that people don’t have to stop smoking in one day, just start with day one. The event was designed to reflect what we all know about tobacco addiction — quitting smoking isn’t easy; it takes time and it takes a plan.

“In observance of this year’s GASO, which is being observed on Thursday, Nov. 19, the Smoking Cessation Trust (SCT) is encouraging Louisianans to develop a plan that challenges them to stop using tobacco in all its forms,” said Mike Rogers, CEO of the Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services. “And, in light of the current pandemic, quitting should be a priority for all smokers and vapers whose lungs may already be compromised, making them particularly susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19.”

According to recent studies, more than 20 percent of adults in Louisiana smoke, compared to 17.1 percent nationally. Nicotine dependence, which is both physical and mental, is currently the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States.

Smoking is also the leading cause of preventable death in our country, killing more than 480,000 Americans, including 7,200 Louisianans annually. It also results in more than 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure, since smoking doesn’t just kill, it can also lead to long-term health issues.

While quitting is hard, there are immediate benefits for those of all ages who stop smoking, including return to heart rate and blood pressure normality, improved circulation, improved lung function, and improved smell and taste. Long term benefits to non-smokers include reducing the chance of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases by 60 percent, a lower risk of stroke, and improvement in overall physical appearance.

During the Great American Smokeout and throughout the year, the Smoking Cessation Trust helps smokers quit by partnering with statewide health systems and providers to help provide free, smoking cessation products and services to potential “Scott Class” members who are ready to quit.

“With two years left to our free cessation program, it is our hope that all Louisiana smokers who are eligible to become a Trust member, will take full advantage of our free products and services, so they can start their journey toward a smoke-free, healthier life,” Rogers said.

For more information or to apply, visit the Smoking Cessation Trust at www.smokefreela.org; call locally at 504-529-5665 or toll-free at 855-259-6346.

The Smoking Cessation Trust, now in its eighth year, is the result of a court judgment in Scott v. American Tobacco Company, a 14-year-old class action lawsuit, that became final in summer 2011. The judgment ordered certain tobacco companies to fund a statewide, 10-year smoking cessation program to benefit Louisiana smokers who are members of the plaintiff class (the “Scott Class”). The recipient of the award was a court-established and court-supervised smoking cessation program, known as the Smoking Cessation Trust, which would benefit all Louisiana residents who smoked a cigarette before Sept. 1, 1988. The program began registering eligible recipients in 2012 and, to date, has registered more than 110,000 Louisiana citizens who have committed to quitting their nicotine addiction