Great American Smokeout aims to help people kick the habit

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Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout event.

The event started in the 1970s as a day dedicated for smokers to kick the habit.

"I think we need a reminder to quit. I think people often have it in the back of their minds but it's really nice to get a push," said Jeff Drope from the American Cancer Society.

About 36.5 million people in the U.S. still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world, according to the American Cancer Society.

They say while cigarette smoking rates have dropped over the years, cigar, pipe, and hookah – other dangerous and addictive ways to smoke tobacco – are very much on the rise.

Smoking is associated with at least 12 cancers. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it kills 480,000 people in the U.S. every year.

Experts at the cancer society say quitting, even for one day, helps your health.

"If you quit before the age of 35 you can gain most of the life years lost from smoking tobacco products so you're looking on an average of a ten year loss and you can gain nine of those years back if you quit," said Drope. "Even if you're older, you can still gain life years back. So there is a motivation to quit even well into your elderly years."

Drope adds that for most people, they really need to make a plan and they need support to quit smoking.

If you or a loved one need help to quit smoking, click HERE for tips and a 24-hour hotline.

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