November 20 is the day designated annually by the American Cancer Society as the “Great American Smokeout”, which was inaugurated in 1976 to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for one day.

Now, 44.2 percent of the 45.3 million Americans who smoke have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year. This is an important day for you whether or not you are a smoker. If you smoke, it is your best chance to stop smoking. And if you do not smoke yourself, it is your opportunity to talk to a family member or friend who is a smoker to offer your support in helping them to cut down or stop. This day could save your life or the life of a loved one.

When President Obama signed the Tobacco Control Act into law on June 22, 2009, he specifically described the importance of smoking cessation in Americans.

Smoking results in more than 400,000 deaths annually in the United States from cancer, emphysema and other respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and spontaneous abortions or miscarriages during pregnancy. In the U.S., increased risk for premature birth in the fetus of pregnant women if the mother smokes is documented.

The Great American Smokeout is a great opportunity to encourage people to commit to a long-term plan to quit using tobacco for good! Live longer, live healthier, make the lives of those around you healthier (by avoiding your second-hand smoke), and consider making November 20 your personal first anniversary for your smoke-free life.