The 3rd Thursday of November was selected by the American Cancer Society (ACS) 36 years ago as the day of the Great American SmokeOut. It began as a day to encourage smokers to quit smoking for just one day, hoping it would last a lifetime AND extend their life.

Yet, more than 46 million Americans still smoke. Tobacco products, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco are all addictive. Most people acknowledge that smoking is harmful, and those who use tobacco, especially smokers, want to quit. In fact, nearly 35 million people make a serious quit attempt each year. Unfortunately, most who try to quit on their own relapse, often within a week.

Why is it so hard to quit? Why does it take on average 5-6 quit attempts before someone successfully stops? With each puff of a cigarette, a smoker pulls nicotine and other toxins into the lungs, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream and hits the brain within seven seconds.

In archived tobacco companies' files, they noted their secret manipulations of nicotine to keep smokers from quitting, attract youth to smoking, and maintain everyone's addiction to keep their $$ bottom line. Phillip Morris in their Marlboro brand used ammonia to alter the nicotine content and addict many young people.

In August 2006, Federal Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that major U.S. tobacco manufacturers designed their cigarettes to precisely control nicotine delivery levels and provide doses of nicotine sufficient to create and sustain addiction. The Family Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law in July of 2009, now requires tobacco manufacturers to disclose detailed information about new and changed products.

The best news is that treatments for tobacco addiction work and during the 36 years since the SmokeOut began many new counseling strategies and pharmaceuticals are now available to help people stop smoking. Behavioral treatment programs, individual or group counseling or state telephone Quitlines assist smokers with professionally trained counselors who design a treatment plan with the client to best serve individual needs. FDA approved over-the-counter or prescribed pharmaceuticals for tobacco treatment are important adjunct therapy, along with behavioral counseling. By combining counseling with approved FDA medications, tobacco users increase their chance of quitting and staying quit by 50 percent or more, as confirmed in a report just released by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report states that 48.3 percent of smokers who saw a health professional in the past year recalled getting advice to quit and 31.7 percent of those who quit used counseling and/or medications. Quitting cold turkey or quitting on your own only increases your chances of NOT being successful. But, according to the report, smokers underutilize proven treatments for quitting, so smokers need to be continually educated on available treatment resources.

In addition, the CDC report encourages healthcare providers to provide brief advice to their tobacco patients at every visit; discuss FDA approved medications; and refer their patients interested in quitting to local tobacco treatment services or the state Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW). Healthcare administrators, insurers, and purchasers can support these clinical interventions and increase successful cessation, by providing comprehensive insurance coverage with no deductibles or co-payments for tobacco treatment and by implementing tobacco-free campus policies in health care settings and workplaces.

Quitting is a challenge, but smokers can increase success with professional assistance on the SmokeOut. Our programs are free and counselors are professionally trained to assist you. Make this SmokeOut the one when you finally quit. Call toll-free 1-866-974-QUIT (7848) or visit www.tobaccofreene.com. Remember, quit with us, and don't do it alone!

Jeanne Fignar

Allentown

Special to The TIMES NEWS

providing comprehensive insurance coverage with no deductibles or co-payments for tobacco treatment and by implementing tobacco-free campus policies in health care settings and workplaces.

Quitting is a challenge, but smokers can increase success with professional assistance on the SmokeOut. Our programs are free and counselors are professionally trained to assist you. Make this SmokeOut the one when you finally quit. Call toll-free 1-866-974-QUIT (7848) or visit www.tobaccofreene.com. Remember, quit with us, and don't do it alone!

Jeanne Fignar

Allentown

Special to The TIMES NEWS