Georgians toss the cigarettes for the “Great American Smokeout”

No butts, please.

It’s time for Georgians to toss those cigarettes for the “Great American Smokeout.”

The American Cancer Society’s annual campaign, held the third Thursday of November, encourages people to quit for the day - and preferably - for good.

“Some people take it as just a challenge to quit that day,” said Evelyn Barella, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based ACS. “We hope that what they will do is plan to quit for good. Or, at least this will serve as a reminder that they should quit.”

Tobacco use leads to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death.

Perhaps people are getting the message. Smoking rates have dropped significantly in the last few decades.

In Georgia, for instance,the adult smoking rate dropped to 17.4 percent in 2014 from 18.8 percent in 2013. Even more significant, the smoking rate has dropped to 16.4 percent among young adults ages 18 to 24. However, more than 50,000 middle and high school students in Georgia say they use e-cigarettes and twice as many say they have tried them.

“Every year in Georgia, more than 12,000 people die from smoking related illnesses,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health said in a statement. “People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and early death. The health benefits are greater for people who stop at earlier ages, but there are benefits at any age. You are never too old to quit.”

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