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Published on November 12, 2014

Avera Supports Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20

One of the best things you can do for overall good health is to quit smoking, or never start in the first place. That’s why Avera supports the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20.

The American Cancer Society marks the third Thursday of November each year to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit for good or quit smoking for that day. By quitting – even for one day – smokers take an important step toward a healthier life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. Smoking contributes to many types of cancer, most specifically lung cancer, the top cause of cancer deaths for both men and women.

“Other than the risk of cancer, smoking increases the risk of heart disease and infections,” said Fady Jamous, MD, Pulmonologist with Avera Medical Group Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. “When public smoking bans are passed, we see a drop in heart attacks in both smokers and non-smokers. It proves how dangerous a habit smoking truly is.”

Smoking also contributes to lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and stroke. The CDC has estimated that adult smokers lose an average of 13-14 years of life because of smoking. Each year, smoking causes early deaths of about 480,000 people in the United States, the CDC reports.

Yet it’s not easy to quit smoking. Nicotine is a drug that is as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Over time, a person becomes physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine. “Many patients try for years to quit, and on average they try nine times,” Dr. Jamous said. “I always tell patients to keep trying – the successful patient will try quitting multiple times.”

The American Cancer Society recommends choosing a quit day, and coming up with a quit plan. Helpful resources exist for both the emotional and physical aspects of nicotine addiction.

Resources for the emotional addiction include quit-smoking programs, support groups, support of family and friends, self-help books, pamphlets or online information.  Resources for the physical addiction include nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medications, and other options, such as acupuncture.

Here are some tips for a successful quit day:

  • Tell your family and friends about your plans to quit and ask for their support.
  • Get rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car and at work.
  • Stock up on oral substitutes – sugarless gum, carrot sticks, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, coffee stirrers, straws or toothpicks.
  • Keep active – try walking, short bursts of exercise, or other activities and hobbies.
  • Drink lots of water and juices.
  • Avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong.
  • Avoid people who are smoking.
  • Drink less alcohol or avoid it completely.
  • Change your routine: Take a different route to work, drink tea instead of coffee, try new foods, etc.

The following resources are available:

  • Your primary care practitioner can recommend programs, nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications.
  • The South Dakota QuitLine, 1-866-SD-QUITS (1-866-737-8487), offers free coaching and free cessation medication. Learn more at
  • Avera Corporate Health Services offers smoking cessation support groups and health coaching. To learn more, call 605-322-3875.
  • Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota offers tobacco counseling. Learn more by calling 605-977-7000.
  • Avera Health Plans offers an eight-week tobacco cessation program that includes weekly group sessions at no expense to health plan members. To learn more, call 605-322-4789.

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Lindsey Meyers
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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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