I want to applaud the American Cancer Society for its leadership in coming up with the concept of the Great American Smokeout, an annual event celebrated on the third Thursday of every November to encourage smokers to try to quit.

According to the American Cancer Society’s website, the idea for the Great American Smokeout grew from a 1970 event that “asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.

“The idea caught on, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. That event marked the first Great American Smokeout, and ACS took the program nationwide in 1977.”

This was a masterful idea that I believe addressed one of the normal human points of psychological resistance to quitting and which has allowed many folks through the years to quit for good. No one likes to be told what to do!

But not many folks can resist the idea of doing something for someone else or charity for one day. Don’t push them to quit for good. Push them to try it for just one day, for charity! Some will never start again, but many will just not be able to help themselves and will continue smoking, vowing to quit another day.

Here at the Smoking Cessation Trust, we work to help Louisiana’s smokers who began smoking cigarettes prior to Sept. 1, 1988 to stop — for free. We pay for delivery of any combination of current recommended treatment modalities to assist in up to two 120-day quit attempts each year through mid-2022. With the highly addictive nature of modern cigarettes, it might take that long and a number of attempts for most smokers to actually quit, but help is available at www.Smoke FreeLA.org or by calling toll free: ( 855) 259-6346.

Encourage anyone you know who smokes cigarettes to make a plan to quit, or join the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20 and try to quit for just one day. If you can’t stop for yourself, then stop for everyone that loves you. Stop for charity. Stop for your kids. But, at all costs, stop smoking — for a day, maybe for good!

Mike Rogers

CEO, Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services, Inc.

New Orleans