By BRIAN SMITH
Today is the annual Great American Smokeout, where Americans are encouraged to quit smoking for a day in an attempt to spur more people to quit permanently.
Studies have shown that at any given time, two thirds of all smokers are considering quitting. A quarter will make a serious attempt each year – many as a New Year’s resolution. But just 7 percent will be successful in the first try.
In many cases, it takes something traumatic in a person’s life, such as the loss of a loved one to cancer or other diseases, to get them to stop. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S. but studies show it takes an average of seven attempts before a smoker is actually able to quit.
Joe Larson is a smoker who has tried to quit, but said he “hasn’t quite gotten over the hump yet.” Smoking a cigarette while fueling his truck at a local gas station Wednesday, Larson said he began smoking at the age of 12 as a result of peer pressure, and said he has averaged a pack a day for the last 35 years.
Larson says he has “quit” four or five times over the years, trying a nicotine patch or simply going cold turkey, but says his fear of getting fat drives him back to the cigarette.
“Smoking is a bad thing, that’s for sure, but so are the complications from eating too much or drinking, too,” Larson said. “Everyone’s got their vice and this is mine, I guess.”
Lee Ann Adams gives praise to God for helping her quit smoking.
“It was about eight or 10 years ago and I was listening to a guest speaker at Bethany Fellowship Church saying how the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which I had heard before,” Adams recalled. “Something clicked at that moment, though, and I got the cigarettes out of my purse, raised them above my head and threw them down on the ground at the speaker’s feet.”