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Young Hispanic Man Breaking Cigarette With Hands

For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November. First held in 1976 in Randolph, Massachusetts, this event challenges people to stop smoking for a minimum of 24 hours and provides information about the many tools they can use to quit and stick to it long-term.

This is an opportunity for people who smoke to commit to healthy, smoke-free lives, not for just one day but year-round. The Great American Smokeout–which was adopted as an annual event in 1977 by the ACS–provides an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, health-care providers, and others to encourage people to quit smoking or plan and initiate a smoking-cessation plan on the day of the event.

Should I quit smoking?

Addiction to nicotine found in cigarettes is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions a person can have. Quitting is hard, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2021, approximately 1 billion people worldwide are regular smokers. This represents approximately 20 percent of the global population ages 15 and over. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people each year. More than 7 million of those deaths are a result of direct tobacco use and 1.2 million a result of nonsmokers being exposed to secondhand smoke.

The Risks of E-Cigarettes

In recent years, using e-cigarettes (vaping) has become a trendy way to smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2020, approximately 3.6 percent of adults in the United States were using e-cigarettes. Vaping among youth has become a significant public health concern. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, in 2020, approximately 19.6 percent of high school students and 4.7 percent of middle school students in the US reported current e-cigarette use.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that include vapes, mods, Juuls, e-hookahs, and vape pens. These handheld devices come in many forms and are often mistaken for a computer thumb drive. The devices work by heating a cartridge containing liquid nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor. The vapor is often fruit flavored–such as strawberry, watermelon, and lemon–which has been found to add to the appeal. The amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes varies. Small amounts of e-liquid can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of regular cigarettes. For more information on e-cigarettes and vaping, visit the following Alabama Cooperative Extension System resources:

Ready to quit but do not know how to start?

The ACS strongly advised those who smoke to use proven cessation methods, such as prescription medications and counseling, to quit smoking. However, there is no one right way to quit. See Ways to Quit Tobacco Without Using Medicines at www.cancer.org for more information. Before quitting, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to get their advice. The ACS provides various resources and support for individuals who want to quit smoking. They offer a free Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) that connects smokers with trained counselors who can provide guidance and support as they quit smoking.

New Alabama Law

According to the CDC, children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis, middle ear disease, more frequent and severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth. A new Alabama law, effective August 1, 2023, prohibits smoking or vaping in a motor vehicle when a child is present.

House Representative District 58, Rhonda Hollis (D-Birmingham), sponsored the bill. The law applies whenever a child is in the car, whether the window are open or not, whether or not the vehicle is moving, and even if the door is open. The new law establishes smoking in a vehicle with a child as a secondary infraction. Police could not stop someone for smoking with children in the car. However, if they were stopped for another reason, then the officer could then cite them for this infraction.

To learn more about this new law, visit AL.com’s article Alabama’s new smoking, vaping law now in effect. For information on the health impacts of secondhand smoke, visit www.alabamapublichealth.gov.

Join the Great American Smokeout

The ACS provides several resources for people to use in workplaces, health systems, and other locations in your community during the Great American Smokeout. To access these resources, visit the Great American Smokeout Event Tools and Resources web page at www.cancer.org.

To schedule an Alabama Extension-led community workshop, contact the humans sciences team at 334-844-5671 or aceshse@auburn.edu.