The Great American Smokeout takes place every year on the third Thursday of November.

Sandy Foster, the program director for the TSET Healthy Living program at CCMH, said it encourages people to quit smoking for just one day.

“It’s for the day, but it’s in the hopes that they’ll quit for a lifetime,” Foster said.

She said one in five Oklahomans smoke, which is higher than the national average. She’s hoping the Great American Smokeout will cause the number of smokers in the Sooner State to go down.

Foster knows what it’s like to quit because she’s a former smoker herself.

“I started smoking when I was just 13-years-old, and I was 24 when I quit,” she said. “I was one of those kids that was lured by the tobacco industry. Some of my heroes smoked. My dad smoked, and I wanted to be just like him.”

So, she knows it’s not easy to put the butt out for good.

“Some of them will say, ‘you know I miss it. I do miss it, but I don’t miss the fact that I couldn’t climb up a flight of stairs. I don’t miss the fact that I couldn’t spend all of that time with my grandchildren,’” she said.

There was one thing that really helped her.

“For me, it was really about taking it one day at a time,” Foster said. “I made it through today, and I can make it through tomorrow, and it was really about gosh I didn’t do it. It’s hard. It is hard, but it’s well worth it.”

That’s because Foster said smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. It kills more than 450,000 every year. She said it can cause health problems like cancer and heart disease.

She said quitting smoking will be one of the hardest things someone will do.

“You kinda learned how to smoke,” Foster said. “You had to learn how to hold a cigarette, how to hold it in, all of those things, so it takes a while to learn how to quit. Quitting is a process. So, taking that first step is the first step in reclaiming your health.”

If you need help quitting, you can call the helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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