Are you a smoker who’s thinking about quitting? There’s no better day to start than Thursday.
That’s the day of the Great American Smoke-Out, a national event held every year by the American Cancer Society.
The Smoke-Out “encourages people who smoke or use tobacco to quit for 24 hours,” says Barbara Silver, the program manager for employee wellness at UNC Family Medicine and the Town of Chapel Hill. “And then if they’re successful, to quit for another 24 hours – and just do it one day at a time, as a prelude to being able to quit altogether.”
If you’re one of the 42 million Americans who smoke, and you’re looking to quit, UNC’s Nicotine Dependence Program is setting up booths around town on Thursday from 11 to 3 as part of the Great American Smoke-Out.
“We’ll have information tables at the (UNC) hospital outside of Starbucks (and) at UNC Family Medicine by the patient entrance,” Silver says. “And then CVS also has been partnering with us because they’re not selling tobacco anymore – (so) we’re going to have some pharmacy students helping us down there on Franklin Street.”
And if you can’t make it to the booths, there’s also a statewide quit line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can call that number at any time – but if you call on Thursday, as part of the Great American Smoke-Out, you can receive even more support.
“If you call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, on Thursday, the Quit Line will give you eight weeks of free (nicotine) patches,” says Silver.
Silver says nicotine patches and other forms of medication can double your chances of quitting successfully.
It’s a hard road to quitting, and there may be stumbles along the way – but Silver says those stumbles are just “bumps on the road to progress.” And it is possible to quit – you just have to take it one day at a time.
Matt Englund of UNC Health Care has been smoke-free for a year.
“(I did it by) spreading out my cravings,” he says. “When you want a cigarette, you just take an extra 15 minutes and try to hold off – then try 30 minutes, then an hour, and eventually you train yourself to realize that you don’t – though you think you need it at that moment – you don’t need it at that moment…
“And work up to the moment when you can take a day. Take two days. Take a week. Do as much as you can – and keep trying until you’re successful.”
England and Silver joined Aaron Keck on WCHL this week.
The Great American Smoke-Out is held every year on the third Thursday in November. For more information, visit the American Cancer Society’s website, Cancer.org – and for more information on programs here in our area, visit the Nicotine Dependence Program’s page, NDP.UNC.edu.