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Quitting smoking is not easy. It takes time. And a plan.

You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Start with day one. Let the Great American Smokeout event on November 21 be your day to start your journey toward a smoke-free life.

You’ll be joining thousands of people who smoke across the country in taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing your cancer risk. In addition, the American Cancer Society can help you access the resources and support you need to quit.

More than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. While the cigarette-smoking rate has dropped significantly, from 42 percent in 1965 to 14 percent in 2017, the gains have been inconsistent. Some groups of Americans suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases, including those who have less education, who live below the poverty level, or who suffer from serious psychological distress, as well as certain racial and ethnic groups, and lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Quitting smoking improves health immediately and over the long term – at any age. Stopping smoking is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling and medicine doubles or even triples your chances of quitting successfully.

Support is also important. Smoking cessation programs, telephone quit lines, the American Cancer Society’s Freshstart program, Nicotine Anonymous meetings, self-help materials such as books and pamphlets, and smoking counselors or coaches can be a great help.

The American Cancer Society, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide support as people make their plan to quit. More information is available at cancer.org/smokeout or by calling 1-800-227-2345. You can also call Quitline Iowa at 1-800-784-8669 or 641-923-3676 to get help quitting.

“Hancock County Community Health wants to help the people in our county to be healthy and happy,” said Kelly Hutcheson, HCHS Community Health. “During this year’s Great American Smokeout event, we hope everyone will join us – and encourage their friends, family and colleagues to join us – in committing or recommitting to year-around, smoke-free lives.”

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