Ardmore, PA -- Today’s is the Great American Smokeout.  It is a day that is billed as an annual intervention day, held on the third Thursday of each November.  As I walked to Ruby’s Diner in the Suburban Square shopping center today I saw a smoker standing outside in the weather, smoking.  So I asked the young lady this question, “Do people hassle you over smoking on this day - the Great American Smokeout Day?”

Her answer surprised me: “People are just RUDE,” Sharon W. of have Havertown exclaimed.  “They aren’t any worse or any better today than any other day” she went on to say. 

“I feel like a pariah whenever I’m outside smoking.  I’ve been walking down an open street smoking, and people hassle me they make faces. Older people make tsk tsk sounds.  When I’m outside on crappy weather days it’s even worse,” she stated.

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An official from the American Cancer Society shed some light on the plight many smokers face when trying to quit. “Some people are able to quit on their own, without the help of others or the use of medicines,” said Paula Green, Executive Director of the American Cancer Society in Philadelphia.

“For many though, it can be extremely hard to break not only the physical addiction but also the social and emotional ties to smoking,” explained Green. “The most important step is the first one: making the decision to quit, and we hope the Great American Smokeout gives smokers an opportunity to consider making a lifesaving change.”

Sharon W. went on to tell me that she has tried to quit at least 10 times.  She also stated that she thinks people are rude because “they know I’d like to quit - because really who wants to smoke?”

“Sometimes I think I should tell them that I smoke when I am nervous, that I smoke when I’m sad and that I smoke when I’m hungry and it helps me not to gain weight,” Sharon said. “But what I really want to tell them is just mind your own business!”

“I’d like to ask them, ‘am I hurting you?’ ” Sharon further went on to tell me that she was surprised that I asked how people treated her, or that I might even care.  

Sharon is young, and the mother of two and she says she works 10 hours a day to take care of her family.  She also said that if smoking makes her feel better that “we should all just deal with it.”

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 34 million Americans still smoke and that quitting is not easy. Addiction to nicotine in cigarettes is one of the most potent and most deadly addictions one can have. Quitting is hard for many people who smoke. It takes commitment and starts with a plan, often takes more than one quit attempt, and requires a lot of support. Studies also note that the younger one was when he or she started to smoke, the more intense the addiction.

The American Cancer Society’s research shows that smokers are most successful in their efforts to stop smoking when they have support, such as:

  • Telephone quitlines

  • American Cancer Society Freshstart Program

  • Nicotine Anonymous meetings

  • Self-help books and materials

  • Smoking counselors or coaches

  • Encouragement and support from friends and family members

Using 2 or more of these measures to quit smoking works better than using any one of them alone. For example, some people use a prescription medicine along with nicotine replacement. Other people may use as many as 3 or 4 of the methods listed above.

Professional guidance can help you choose the approach that’s right for you.