"Every year, for the last 32 years the American Cancer Society has asked the nation to quit smoking or to cut back for one day," Clay County Health Department Employee Linda Messmer said. "The Great American Smokeout always takes place on the third Thursday of November, right before the holidays."
The purpose is to encourage people to quit smoking for one day and to encourage awareness of smoking-related diseases and death.
"We hope that by encouraging people to quit for one day, then they will realize that they can quit smoking for good," Messmer said. "438,000 Americans die every year. Fifty percent or one of every two will die of a smoking-related disease."
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly one in five deaths in the United States is because of smoking.
"Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death," Messmer said, "because it is an activity that people choose to do."
The American Cancer Society also states that nicotine that is found in cigarettes is in the same class level of addiction as methamphetamine and codeine.
"Cigarettes have more than 4,000 different chemicals, most of which are poison," she said. "There are over 40 chemicals that are known to cause cancer."
There is also the concern of second-hand smoke. The American Cancer Society website states that second-hand smoke is just as dangerous to nonsmokers, with 3,000 deaths a year and 300,000 children who suffer from lower respiratory track infections and other diseases.
"A Canadian study has proven that second-hand smoke does cause addiction to nicotine," Messmer said. "This includes children … young children can become addicted to nicotine without ever smoking a cigarette."
People all across the nation are encouraged to quit smoking for one day, however for those that want to quit smoking but need more than a day, help is here.
The Clay County Health Department offers a free smoking cessation class that offers group support, behavior modification techniques, free replacement patches and gum.
For more information call 448-9019.