This year on Nov. 20 (Thursday), smokers across the nation will take part in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.

The American Cancer Society says that some people may use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day. This effort began in the 1970’s and has grown ever since.

It was reported that in 1976, the American Cancer Society in California had almost 1 million smokers quit for the day. As awareness has increased over the years regarding the negative effects of tobacco, society’s views have changed. For example, in the early 1990s, reports came in stating that underage smoking had risen almost 50 percent. As national attention focused on this troubling fact, education was implemented to counteract and prevent further increases. By the late 1990s, a decline was noted in smoking for people under 20. With all the education, media campaigns and policy changes, smoking is still on the decline.

This is, of course, great news. However, smoking is still responsible for nearly 1 in 3 cancer deaths and 1 in 5 deaths from all causes. Another 8.6 million people live with serious illnesses caused by smoking. So it is a battle that still needs to be fought and won.

If you smoke or someone you know smokes and would like to quit, you can call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 for local resources or you can contact the Steuben Council on Addictions at 607-776-6441. We are here to help.

Michele Sexsmith, MS, LCAT, is a Prevention Educator with the Steuben Council on Addictions.

(Sources: American Cancer Society and Monitoring the Future, National Survey Results on Drug Use 1975-2013).