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Great American Smokeout takes place Nov. 17


Every third Thursday in November, tobacco users are encouraged to set a date to quit or pledge to be smoke-free for 24 hours as a part of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout. To promote this event in Sitka, health educators from the Sitka Tobacco Quit Program and the Sitka School District "Kick It" Program will host an informational booth from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Market Center grocery store (210 Baranof St.).

The Great American Smokeout's goal is to motivate smokers to quit using tobacco, while also raising awareness about effective quit techniques and programs. An estimated 46 million adults in the United States smoke and approximately half will die prematurely from smoking.

On Nov. 17, a "Guess How Many Butts" competition is open to all participants, with various prizes being offered to the winners with the closest guesses, including a grand prize of a $100 gift certificate donated by Hames Corp. People who arrive after noon will be able to share in hot coffee and "cold turkey" sandwiches until supplies run out.

Since most tobacco users start between the ages of 13 and 15, there also will be a representative available from the Sitka School District's "Kick It" Tobacco Program from 3-6 p.m. to provide information about youth tobacco prevention and cessation.

The Sitka Tobacco Quit Program is open to all Sitka residents. This program is funded through collaboration between SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Community Hospital. The program offers one year of behavioral support and three months of free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, such as gum, lozenges and patches.

According to the U.S. Public Health Service, tobacco users are six times more likely to quit with behavioral support and NRT products than when they try to quit "cold turkey."

For more information about the Great American Smokeout and the Sitka Tobacco Quit Program, please call SEARHC Tobacco Health Educator Mike DeBell at 966-8721. Another resource for quit support is Alaska's Tobacco Quit Program at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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