MARQUETTE - This Thursday marks the 35th annual Great American Smokeout.
Smokers are asked to quit smoking for the day in the hopes that they will eventually quit for good. However Sarah Derwin, health educator and tobacco coordinator with the Marquette County Health Department, said she would be pleased if people at least thought about quitting.
"I wouldn't want somebody to spontaneously just quit. I'd want somebody to have a plan in place, to know what their triggers are, what makes them want to smoke. My advice to people is always to sit down and have a plan before they actually throw the cigarettes away," she said.
Although quitting smoking is difficult, laying the correct groundwork for kicking the habit can help, according to experts. (Journal file photo)
Derwin said having a plan in place is essential for most people because the first day of not smoking is can be fairly unpleasant.
"It takes your body a little bit to get rid of some of the toxins that cigarettes have built up so usually the first day would be pretty miserable," she said. "You would be having the headaches, the shaking, and you would probably be coughing quite a bit because you're coughing up a lot of that built-up phlegm."
Derwin said research shows that quitters are most successful when using a combination of therapies including resources such as nicotine replacement, counseling, self-help materials and a strong support network of family and friends.
"We know that combination will give someone a better chance of quitting, rather than cold turkey," she said. "For some people it'll work great - they went cold turkey and they never looked back but we do recommend, for a long-term plan, people to use the resources that are out there."
The county's smoking rate is between 17 and 20 percent of the population, comparable to the state and national average, Derwin said. She expected the percent to drop even further due to the state's ban of smoking in public places.
"With the smoke-free law in effect ... we're expecting to see quite a bit of a dip. With all the other states that have gone smoke-free you usually see more of a decline," Derwin said.
Even though the smokeout officially began in 1977, the event's roots reach back to 1971 when Arthur P. Mullaney challenged the citizens of Randolf, Mass. to give up cigarettes for the day and donate the saved money to a high school scholarship fund. Mullaney coined the term smokeout.
Later the concept spread to Minnesota, where it was called Don't Smoke Day, and then to California where it became the Great American Smokeout.
The Michigan Department of Community Health's tobacco quitline at 1-800-784-8669 provides free telephone coaching for the uninsured and those with Medicaid or Medicare and free nicotine replacement medications for those who qualify. The quitline enrolled over 5,000 Michigan residents between Oct. 1 2009 and Sept. 30. The MDCH's website is www.michigan.gov/tobacco.
For more information visit www.smokefreeup.org or contact Derwin at 315-2621 at the county health department. The toll-free telephone number for the American Cancer Society is 1-800-ACS-2345. Information is also available on the ACS's website at www.cancer.org.
Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org