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This Thursday is the Great American Smokeout

The annual observance encourages tobacco users to quit.

For more than 40 years, the third Thursday in November has been observed as the Great American Smokeout – a day to encourage tobacco users to begin a journey to quit.

Cheryl Stetz is community health educator with Fargo Cass Public Health. She says the designation was begun by the American Cancer Society in order to connect tobacco users with resources available to assist in quitting their habits. Stetz says it takes an average user several attempts to be successful at quitting tobacco or nicotine products.

"You know, on average it's known to be about seven times. It takes seven times for people to do a quit attempt before they're successful. I always tell people, you know, don't focus so much on, 'oh, I failed, I messed up,' but you know what? No, you were smoke free for a while. So let's learn from what happened and then move forward."

Stetz says quitting tobacco is one of the most single important things a person can do to improve their health. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, about a thousand North Dakotans die annually of smoking related disease. North Dakota’s adult smoking rate is currently 15 percent, which is above the national average of 11.5 percent. And Stetz says roughly 33 percent of youth in the state are using vape products.

Stetz says Fargo Cass Public Health offers a variety of resources to help users quit, including free education, cessation medications and treatment resources. North Dakota’s statewide program NDQuits also offers resources.