MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Thursday is the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout", encouraging all smokers to quit for at least 24 hours, or at least make a plan to quit.
Smokers in Alabama don't have to do it alone. The Alabama Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUITNOW, is a free phone line that can help, with no judgment,
and no excuses. The program helps smokers quit by providing information, establishing a plan to quit, regular coaching, and nicotine patches.
"During the coaching sessions, they help you set a quit date, they send some information back to you via the mail, for you to have, to show you some benefits of quitting, to walk you through the steps and the process of quitting, some different things to help you on that road to quitting," says Jabari Sullen, manager of the Alabama Tobacco Quitline. "You have up to 6 coaching sessions, when you can call in, they're normally 15 to 20 minutes, when you get to talk to your coach about maybe some things that you're dealing with, some barriers you may be having, and they kind of help you walk through that process of quitting."
Smoking is the number one cause of death and disease in the nation. In Alabama, it kills more than 8600 adults every year. One in four heart disease deaths, nearly one in three cancer deaths, and eight in 10 deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are caused by smoking.
Research has shown that after just 12 hours of quitting smoking, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal. After just two weeks, circulation begins to improve and lung function increases.
According to the CDC, almost 60 percent of smokers tried to quit for at least one day last year, but were unable to kick the habit for good.
"We can help you quit," Sullen says. "But you have to make the call."
21.5 percent of adults in Alabama are smokers. Nationally, the rate is about 18 percent.