By Robert Suhoza, certified mindfulness coach at Sharecare
In the United States, an estimated 34 million adults still engage in the habit of lighting up a cigarette or taking a drag from a vape. Additionally, there are about 2.5 million U.S. middle and high school students who use at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes. Despite the desire to quit, the long road to success is bumpy and lacks support. Research shows that while 70 percent of American smokers want to quit, only a fraction—10 percent—will succeed on their own. And according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), smoking is the most preventable cause of death, claiming approximately 480,000 lives each year in the U.S. alone or nearly 20% of all deaths.
The Great American Smokeout
The Great American Smokeout, an initiative by ACS, has been encouraging smokers to make a plan to quit for over four decades. The event not only promotes a smoke-free day, but also supports the longer journey towards a smoke-free life. By quitting even for just 24 hours, people take a small step towards a healthier life – but it’s one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.
This tradition began in 1970 in Randolph, Massachusetts, when Arthur P. Mullaney, a guidance counselor, challenged his community to give up smoking cigarettes for a day and donate the money saved to a local school. The idea caught on, and by 1976, the California division of ACS turned it into a new movement, prompting nearly a million smokers to participate. The following year, it became a national event.
Craving to Quit by Sharecare
As part of this year’s Smokeout, many Americans will mark a “quit day” in response to ACS’s call to action, including members of Craving to Quit. Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, Craving to Quit was developed based on practical mindfulness training to quit smoking. The program invites members to pay attention to what it’s really like to smoke: the taste, smell, and feeling. When we feel the effects of smoking, the habit starts to lose hold. Unlike the typical cessation efforts that rely on dodging triggers or sheer willpower, Craving to Quit targets the reward system of our brain, which governs the habit loop of smoking.
Aligned with ACS’s recommendations, Craving to Quit presents a comprehensive quitting strategy encompassing support and education. It’s 21-day nicotine reduction plan guides users away from dependency over time through short videos, one-on-one coaching, weekly calls with experts, mindfulness exercises, and progress tracking.
If you are craving to quit, set your quit date on Thursday for the Great American Smokeout and download Sharecare’s Craving to Quit app for free from the App Store or Google Play. We will support you every breath of the way.
Craving to Quit is also available through many employers’ and health plans’ benefits programs. If you’re interested in making it available for tobacco users in your organization, you can request more information and a demo at https://www.sharecare.com/digital-therapeutics/tobacco-cessation.