Stop! Don't reach for that cigarette -- at least for one day. Relax. Take a deep breath and try reaching for a carrot stick instead of a cigarette.
That's part of the message from the American Cancer Society who today is sponsoring the 16th annual "Great American Smokeout."
"We encourage smokers to stop for 24 hours, and if they can quit then, perhaps they can quit for a lifetime," says Sandra Esslinger, public education director for the cancer society.
No one says it's going to be easy but it might help to repeat this sentence like a mantra: Smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death and disability in the United States, according to a report from the surgeon general.
Making it through one day without smoking may lead to forever quitting the habit, says Dr. Calvin F. Fuhrmann, chief of respiratory division at Harbor Hospital Center.
"[Smokers] find out that nothing happens to them when they've stopped -- and, lo and behold, they quit. One day leads to another," hesays.
And many smokers may just need a little encouragement. "Among the 50 million people [in this country] that smoke, 90 percent will tell you under questioning that they would like to quit. Of course, some are so severely addicted that they are not even thinking about quitting. But a whole lot of people are on the fence," he says.
If your urge for a smoke wins out over the desire to quit -- don't despair. "If not successful, get some help," Dr. Fuhrmann says. There are several smoke-less events around town for would-be quitters including a seminar given by Dr. Fuhrmann at 7 p.m. today at the Harbor Hospital Center, 3001 S. Hanover St.
"I'm going to show some filthy pictures, horrifying pictures of lung cancer," Dr. Fuhrmann says. He will also talk about behavior modification such as determining what triggers the urge for a cigarette. "Find out what causes it, then find a substitute," he says.
Other area events:
* Mr. Butts (from the comic strip "Doonesbury") will be at Towson State University in the University Union all day.
* A workshop on how to quit smoking or how to help someone quit, Room 309 at Towson's University Union, from noon to 1 p.m.
* Free pulmonary function screenings, adopt-a-smoker kits, a demonstration on the effects of smoking on your lungs and lecture on the nicotine patch sponsored by the Baltimore County General Hospital. Screenings today from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Carrolltowne Mall; screenings and a lecture from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the hospital. By appointment. Call (410) 521-5968.
* Support group for people who wish to stop smoking called Nicotine Anonymous, 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays at Homewood Friends Meeting House, 3107 N. Charles St. Call (410) 325-6676.
* For information about Dr. Fuhrmann's seminar, call (410) 347-3569.