The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smoke Out on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting—even for one day—people who smoke will be taking an important step towards a healthier life.

The benefits of quitting are both immediate and life-long. Only 8 to 12 hours after your last cigarette, your blood has the normal amount of carbon monoxide and oxygen. Within 48 hours, your chance of a heart attack decreases, and in 90 days your lungs can make a 90 percent recovery. One year later your risk of heart disease is half that of a person who smokes.

The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, or ASHLine, offers free telephone and web-based tobacco cessation services. You can get up to four weeks free of nicotine patch, gum or lozenges when you enroll in ASHLine services. The quit coaches are real people located right here in Arizona, and most of them are former tobacco users so they understand how hard it is to quit and stay quit.

Several Great American Smoke Out events are taking place across Arizona this week. We’ll leverage the power of social media to raise the awareness among Arizona youth and adults about the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke two initiatives called Secondhands and Flip the Smoke. Secondhands are short videos that deliver various messages to thank someone in your life for quitting for a day, or to request them to stop using tobacco for good. Flip the Smoke inspires users to help turn things around by clearing the air of smoke for at least one day. We also encourage you to participate and utilize #QuitTodayAz to promote awareness.

Arizona is one of the nation’s leaders in tobacco prevention, but even with tobacco use dropping to 15 percent, there are still more than 800,000 Arizonans who smoke and run the risk of disease and premature death that could have been prevented. We will continue to work hard to reduce the number one preventable cause of death and disease in Arizona.

To get help quitting call the ASHLine today at 1-800-55-66-222, or visit