The Wright Center and Great American Smokeout Continue Promoting Virtues of Tobacco-free Life

We all have friends or family members who can attest to how difficult it is to kick the habit and quit smoking. Often, people need multiple attempts before they successfully kick their addiction to nicotine for good.

The effort, though, is entirely worth it, considering the grave health effects of tobacco use. High-profile events like the Great American Smokeout further promote and raise awareness about the national cause.

Held on the third Thursday of November for nearly 50 years, the Great American Smokeout encourages people nationwide to take that crucial first step toward a smoke-free life while providing information on the resources the American Cancer Society (ACS) has to support those looking to quit. Its mission has helped spur the smoke-free laws of the past few decades that have significantly curtailed smoking-related deaths in the United States.

The Great American Smokeout’s origins go back to 1970, when an event in Randolph, Massachusetts, encouraged people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on them to a high school scholarship fund. That was followed in 1974 by the state of Minnesota’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day. Then, on Nov. 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million people to quit smoking for the day, marking the first official Smokeout, which the ACS took nationwide in 1977.

Since then, we’ve come a long way in decreasing the smoking population in the U.S., from about 42% in 1965 to 14% in 2019. Even with these efforts, about 34 million American adults currently smoke, and smoking remains the single most significant preventable cause of death and illness in the world, with an estimated 480,000 deaths annually, according to the ACS.

Meanwhile, certain populations smoke more than others, including people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, those without college degrees, Native Americans, African Americans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, military personnel, and people with behavioral health conditions.

So, we need to continue working hard to promote the virtues of quitting smoking, which improves your health immediately and, over the long term, diminishes your chances of cancer, cardiovascular and lung disease. The path to quitting comes with proven cessation methods, among them prescription medications and counseling. And, of course, lots of support.

Here at The Wright Center for Community Health, we’re doing our best to decrease Northeast Pennsylvania’s smoking population by promoting the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking program. The program focuses on FDA-approved medications that can help people quit, lifestyle changes that can make quitting easier, coping strategies to manage stress and avoid weight gain, and methods to stay tobacco-free permanently.

The number of participants determines individual and/or group sessions. If you are reading this column and are interested in learning more, please get in touch with me at or 570-290-2100.

In addition, our Lifestyle Medicine program takes an evidence-based approach to helping individuals and families improve their health and quality of life by adopting and sustaining lifestyle behaviors, including eliminating tobacco use. Our team is trained in both conventional and lifestyle medicine, and we work with patients to create sustainable, personalized lifestyle self-care plans that can help manage or prevent many chronic diseases.

Smoking is a hard habit to break. But there are clinically proven ways to free yourself from its clutches, and we’re here to help you along that path.