Great American Smoke Out Urged Americans to Drop the Habit

The American Cancer Society’s 38th Great American Smoke Out was held yesterday, when Starke County residents were encouraged to drop the habit in celebration of the event. Brittany Ward, a respiratory therapist at IU Health Starke Hospital, said even though the event is over, now is still the perfect time to quit.

“According to the American Cancer Society, the Great American Smoke Out is held on the third Thursday in November. During this day, smokers across the nation make a plan to quit or plan in advance to quit smoking today. It challenges people to stop using tobacco and makes people aware of the many tools and resources they can use to quit for good,” Ward said.

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County chairperson Judy Jelinek said the goal of the event was to give smokers the initial push they need in order to beat their nicotine addictions.

“I really think that the Great American Smoke Out is to draw attention to the smokers the need to quit and to set apart one day where they actually try to not smoke and to see how they feel about it. Usually, they realize that they can quit for one day; maybe that will lead to them trying to quit for good,” Jelinek said.

Jelinek has been involved with “Tar Wars,” a program about Tobacco Prevention geared toward 4th and 5th graders – a program that she said aims to cut down on a startling statistic.

“Two percent of all 4th graders nationally smoke,” Jelenik said. “And there’s a program called Tar Wars that directs the prevention education towards 4th graders because these are children that are starting to make choices and decisions about their life. With two percent smoking nationwide, you would want to reduce that and keep them from smoking any more than that.”

Fortunately, help is available for those who want to quit. With nearly one million smokers in the state who wish to quit, the free Indiana Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, is available seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide tips and counseling on how to quit for any Hoosier 18 years and older.

For more information or to get help with tobacco cessation, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit