NORMAN — With Oklahoma’s adult smoking rate dropping to a historic low this year and more cities and school districts banning tobacco use on their properties, the Great American Smokeout provides a timely opportunity for local residents to join the tens of thousands of Oklahomans who have quit tobacco.
The Great American Smokeout is a national annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society that takes place on the third Thursday of November. It is scheduled this year on Nov. 21.
The event will be commemorated locally with the Little Axe Community Fall Fest. The event will take place on from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 23 at the Little Axe Health Center, 15951 Little Axe Drive, Norman. The Tobacco Free Cleveland County Coalition will provide cold turkey sandwiches. Individuals who set a quit date and turn in their cigarette packs or smokeless tobacco tins will receive an additional gift bag.
“More and more people in Cleveland County and across the state have successfully given up tobacco with help from the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or by developing their own quit plan,” said Jerry Deming, Tobacco Free Cleveland County Coalition chair. “But we remain active in our community because the tobacco industry continues to market its products to our youth and young adults, which ultimately has led to the death of thousands of Oklahomans each year.”
But the situation is improving. Thanks in part to local groups like the Tobacco Free Cleveland County Coalition, which receive technical support from the Oklahoma State Health Department and grant awards and management from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), fewer Oklahomans are smoking.
A national study released in August says the percentage of adult smokers in Oklahoma has dropped from 26.1 percent in 2011 to 23.3 percent last year —which improved Oklahoma’s smoking rate among the states from 47th to a tie for 39th. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report also states that Oklahoma had 75,000 fewer smokers in 2012 than in 2011.