Billed as the "Official Sponsor of Birthdays" the American Cancer Society's 34th Great American Smokeout will be held Nov. 19 and is designed to encourage smokers to use the date as an aid to kicking the habit. Started in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for one day, in preparation for making a long term plan to quit smoking for good.

The Great American Smokeout even has its own web site www.cancer.org/GreatAmericans, which contains user-friendly tips and tools towards a smoke-free life. In addition to tip sheets and calculators, the site also offers downloadable desktop helpers to assist with planning to quit and ways to succeed in staying tobacco-free. The Quit Clock allows users to pick a quit day within 30 days, then counts down the selected day with tips for each day. The Craving Stopper offers a fun distraction.

Researchers agree quitting smoking can increase life expectancy. Smokers who quit at age 65 gain three years, while those who quit at age 35 could gain an average of eight extra years. Research also shows a reduction in the risk of lung cancer. Ten years after a person quits smoking, the lung cancer death rate drops to about half that of a smoker. Some health benefits are almost instantaneous, such as decreased heart rate and blood pressure. The American Cancer Society's Quit For Life Program offers tips for tobacco cessation and coaching services designed to increase the chances of quitting for good.

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

To learn more, visit the website or call the Carbon-Tamaqua Unit at (570) 645-2162.