The 'Great American Smokeout' encourages cigarette, cigar and pipe users to let go of lighting up for 24 hours or use the day to make a plan to give up tobacco. 2012 marks the 37th time the American Cancer Society has put on the national event that occurs on the third Thursday of each November. Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature death in the United States.
Locally, Southern University at Shreveport held a gathering to educate students and faculty on the dangers of smoking. 18-24 year olds make up the largest group of adult smokers. Southern University instituted a 100% tobacco free policy on its campuses this January. SUSLA Communities of Color Network Regional Coordinator Urina Holt hosted the day's event. She says it's too early to tell if the new policy is having an impact. "It's getting there, some of the students are adjusting to it, especially the non-smokers, they love having the policy," she says.
SUSLA faculty member and former smoker, Dameoyn Woodley, was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat just over two years ago. No longer needing a reason to quit Woodley used the Great American Smokeout as his quit day in 2010. Now smoke free for two years Woodley encourages others to find a support system like the Great American Smokeout. Never give up and surround yourself with positive people, people who are going to support you."
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the adult smoking rate is down to 19% in 2012, the lowest rate ever recorded.