If you’re a smoker, or care for someone who is, mark November 21 on your calendar. That’s this year’s date for the Great American Smokeout, when the American Cancer Society encourages smokers to quit—even for one day—to take an important step towards a healthier life.

Although smoking rates have declined, there are still about 43.8 million American smokers today. There are many resources available to help you quit smoking, from in-person and online support groups to workplace programs and classes at hospitals and local health departments.

Before you quit, have a support network of family and friends in place to give you encouragement. Plan to spend time with non-smokers and ex-smokers, and ask them to meet you in smoke-free settings.

Consult your doctor about using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other smoking-cessation medication. NRT comes in gum, patches, sprays, inhalers or lozenges. It can help relieve some of the physical withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting smoking. Withdrawal symptoms are a key reason many people who try quitting end up smoking again. Other smoking cessation medications includes bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin or Aplenzin), and varenicline (Chantix). Both types of drugs reduce the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, have been getting a lot of attention lately as a quit-smoking aid. These devices, which look like cigarettes, deliver a mist of liquid, flavorings and nicotine. A person inhales it like cigarette smoke. Health groups including the American Cancer Society say more research is needed to determine whether e-cigarettes are safe.
It’s important to remember that quitting smoking is difficult, and many people who have quit tried multiple times before being successful. If you’ve attempted to quit before and went back to smoking, even a few times, don’t give up. With determination, support, and help from your doctor, you could well become one of this year’s Great American Smokeout success stories.

Nyack Hospital is a 375-bed community acute care medical and surgical hospital located in Rockland County, NY. Founded in 1895, it is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, an affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and has partnered with Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine providing clinical rotations to third-year medical students. Its mission is to provide competent, innovative and accessible emergency and acute care services to the residents of Rockland County and surrounding areas.