November 17 2010Every third Thursday in November, millions of smokers pledge to be smoke-free for 24 hours as a part of the Great American Smokeout. To promote this event in Sitka, health educators from the SEARHC Tobacco Quit Program, staff from Sitka Community Hospital and the Sitka School District “Kick It” program coordinator will host information booths from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, at AC-Lakeside Grocery. The Great American Smokeout’s goal is to motivate smokers to quit using tobacco, while also raising awareness about effective quit techniques and programs. On Nov. 18, tobacco users can trade in their tobacco products for various prizes, including water bottles, canvas shopping bags and healthy snacks. A “Guess How Many Butts” competition is open to all participants, with a $50 gift certificate to AC-Lakeside Grocery for the winner. The first 50 people to arrive after noon will be able to share in six-foot-long Subway sandwiches (yes, there will be “cold turkey” on part of the sandwiches). Since most tobacco users start between the ages of 13 and 15, there also will be a representative available from the Sitka School District’s “Kick It” tobacco program to provide information about youth tobacco prevention and cessation. The SEARHC Tobacco Quit Program is open to all tobacco users in Sitka. This program is funded through a collaboration between the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Sitka Community Hospital. The program offers one year of behavioral support and three months of free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, such as gum, lozenges and patches. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, tobacco users are six times more likely to quit with behavioral support and NRT products than when they try to quit “cold turkey.” For more information about the Great American Smokeout, the SEARHC Tobacco Quit Program and tobacco policy work, please call SEARHC Tobacco Health Educator Kristin Schmidt at 966-8721.