CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The folks with the American Cancer Society spent Thursday promoting the 38th annual Great American Smokeout. It’s the one day, of the year, the group targets tobacco user to give up the habit.
But what happens one day later? Friday is the day after the Great American Smokeout. Juliana Frederick, with the West Virginia American Cancer Society, said Friday is just as important as the day before. That’s because users begin to preparing for the long haul.
“They have to come up with a quit plan to stop smoking!” Those first few days tend to be the most difficult according to Frederick.
She stressed her office works year round on policies and programs to help people stop using tobacco. They’re currently working with Congress. U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller has co-sponsored a bill to raise the federal tobacco tax to $1.95 a pack.
“The most effective way to get people to quit using tobacco products is to increase the tax on them,” explained Frederick.
She said getting folks to quit is a matter of life and death. Currently 19 percent of Americans use some type of tobacco product. The number is higher here in West Virginia where 25 percent of men and 23 percent of women use tobacco. West Virginia is second only to Kentucky when it comes to the number of smokers. Last year 3,800 West Virginians died from complications of tobacco use.
Frederick stressed the Great American Smokeout gives people a date to start but it’s what happens in the days, weeks and months after that really counts.