Take a deep breath today at the Great American Smokeout

Some days it pays to be a quitter and today is one of those days as the Greenwich Library and Greenwich Hospital team up for the American Cancer Society’s 37th Great American Smokeout.

The aim of this event? To help smokers quit the habit for at least one day. Smokers are invited to the library’s Health and Information Center at 9:30 a.m. this morning where Diane DeMain, a registered nurse at Greenwich Hospital, will discuss smoking cessation techniques and provide information on quitting.

The goal of the annual Smokeout is to encourage smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit or to plan in advance and quit that day. By quitting even for one day, the American Cancer Society says, smokers are on the track to preventing disease and premature death. And the hope is that the event will help them quit completely.


According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, yet more than 45 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — nearly one in five adults.

“If you quit, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself,” said Kathy Carley-Spanier, Greenwich Hospital’s director of community health told the Post.

It’s “paramount” she said that smokers quit “the habit,” but it can also be one of the hardest challenges a person faces in his or her life, which is where the hospital comes in. The organization’s Community Health Department, she said, is dedicated to promoting health and wellness within the community and the Smokeout provides them with the opportunity to educate the public on the hazards of smoking and the benefits of quitting.

There are a number of tools available to help smokers break the habit such as medication, acupuncture, psychotherapy, support groups, smokeless cigarettes and patches, Ms. Carley-Spanier said. What works for one person may not work for another, however, so it’s up to the individual to determine which method they will use to stop smoking. From there, the hospital is available for support and to help the smoker get the quitting process started.

Ms. Carley-Spanier cited studies that show smokers are three to four times more likely than non-smokers to suffer a heart attack or stroke and they are susceptible to any number of cancers that affect a variety of body parts. In order to drive that message home, she added, the hospital will often present Smokeout participants with a “jar of tar” that illustrates how much tar accumulates in a smoker’s lungs after smoking a pack of cigarettes per day for one year.

Additionally, photos are often shown of a smoker’s lung in comparison to that of a healthy lung to hammer the point home.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” Ms. Carley-Spanier commented.

The goal of the Smokeout and educating people on the hazards of smoking, she added, is to show the public that “smoking impacts your whole life.”

Sandra Chan, a Greenwich Library employee helping to facilitate the Smokeout, had a similar sentiment about the event, explaining that the library has offered the Smokeout since 2007 in hopes of educating the community on the dangers associated with smoking.

Smokeout participants, however, are never chastised.

The event is “meant to be a neutral setting” where smokers or their loved ones can acquire tips and information about smoking from a professional, Ms. Chan explained. “It’s very informal.”

The Smokeout takes place today, Nov. 15 at 9:30 a.m. in the Health and Information Center of the library, located near the periodicals.

In addition to their combined event with the library, Greenwich Hospital will also hold two Smokeout sessions today. The first will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the hospital’s Noble Conference Center and the second will be at 11:30 a.m. in the cafeteria atrium. For more information call the hospital at 203-863-4444.

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