Valdosta Participates in “The Great American Smokeout”

Local anti-tobacco activists are encouraging smokers to take the smokeout challenge. They say if local smokers can prove to themselves that they can quit for just one day, that success will translate into months, years and eventually a whole new smoke-free lifestyle.

Eric Mathis, who pledges not to use tobacco products, was the first of many pledges collected around south Georgia Monday. For folks like Eric, saying no to tobacco is a life or death decision.

Eric says, "I know it's very detrimental to my health. My mom smoked for so many years and she actually died of lung cancer. This is something that is strongly engraved in my mind and I won't start smoking."

But how many tobacco users will really kick their habit on this smokeout day?

Kenyarda Moore, spokesperson for the South Health District, says, "Actually, it's been shown that more smokers quit on Great American Smokeout Day than any other day of the year including New Year's Eve."

Speaking of the holidays, health officials say kicking the habit is the best holiday gift smokers and other tobacco users can give to themselves and their loved ones.

Kenyarda adds, "A lot of people may start thinking about New Year's resolutions at the beginning of the year. They might turn over a new leaf and lose weight or quit smoking, so this is very important at this time of year to start putting the idea in people's minds."

That's why Lowndes County is celebrating The Great American Smokeout with pledges from local tobacco users all week long, and this week also marks the third anniversary of Georgia's Tobacco Quit Line.

Health officials say more than 35,000 Georgians have benefited from the services of the quit line. Extended Web Coverage

Overview of Tobacco Use

  • Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths each year and resulting in an annual cost of more than $50 billion in direct medical costs.

  • Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires combined.

  • Nationally, smoking results in more than 5 million years of potential life lost each year.

  • Approximately 80 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18. Every day, nearly 3,000 young people under the age of 18 become regular smokers.

  • More than 5 million children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they will make as adolescents, the decision to smoke cigarettes.

  • Approximately 10 million people in the United States have died from smoking-attributable causes. Two million of those deaths, more than the population of Houston, have been from lung cancer alone.

  • American smokers have consumed 17 trillion cigarettes. If laid end to end, those cigarettes would cover 900 million miles (a distance long enough to circle the Earth and Jupiter in certain alignments) or circle the earth at the equator more than 36,000 times.

  • Almost two million Americans have not died from smoking-attributable diseases as a result of decisions they have made to not start or to discontinue smoking.

  • About 48 million American adults smoke, but approximately 42 million more would have smoked without smoking prevention activities.

    Source: (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).