The Great American Smokeout, an annual event created in 1977 by the American Cancer Society, is celebrated on the third Thursday of every November to help encourage smokers to try quitting for a day. They are then asked to donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a worthy charity. Sounds easy, but not for the nearly one in four Louisianans who continue to smoke. About 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world.

Letter: For your kids, for charity, for you: It’s time to stop smoking

While smoking rates among U.S. adults and teens continue to drop, nearly a quarter (21.9 percent) of Louisiana’s residents continue to smoke, even though evidence clearly shows that smoking is bad for their health (lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, chromosome damage and more) and their wallets (more states are imposing higher cigarette taxes).

The Smoking Cessation Trust encourages all smokers to participate in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 16 and try to quit, not just for one day, but for life. Our program strives to help Louisiana's smokers who started smoking cigarettes prior to September 1, 1988 to stop — for free.

As the FDA considers lowering nicotine in cigarettes, and the major tobacco companies are being made to issue “corrective statements” admitting they deliberately deceived the American public about the adverse health effects of cigarette smoking for decades, now is the time to consider quitting. Help is available at www.SmokeFreeLA.org or by calling toll free: 1-855-259-6346.

We understand that nicotine is a difficult addiction to break. But try to stop for yourself, then stop for everyone in your life who loves you. Or stop because you just want to keep a few extra dollars in your pocket. Whatever the reason, start quitting by stopping. Join the first smoke-free generation today.

Mike Rogers

CEO, Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services, Inc.

New Orleans