Great American Smokeout kicks off

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

It was just time.

Steve Chancy said he had tried to quit many times before with no success.

But when his daughter was born 29 years ago, Chancy said things fell into place and realizing he wanted to be around for her and watch her grow, he gave up smoking for good.

“I was already being diagnosed with the onsets of emphysema and had a barrel chest and had a lot of problems with it, but I was still enjoying it. I did it all the time,” he said.

Today is the 34th Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Offering support, tips and tools to help smokers quit successfully, the American Cancer Society uses the Great American Smokeout to challenge smokers to quit for a day.

According to www.cancer.org, thirty percent of cancer deaths, including 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, can be attributed to tobacco.

With all the tips and tools out there, the key to quitting is wanting to do it, said Chancy, a registered nurse who teaches smoking cessation classes at Plains Regional Medical Center.

In the end, he believes that was at the core of his success.

“I honestly feel like God gave me a chance. I feel like he said ‘if your smart enough to do it, I’ll give you a chance’… it was just the time. That was the time that I was really ready and it worked for me,” he said.

But even still, Chancy said he drove around for a year with a carton of cigarettes sitting on the dashboard of his pickup truck.

“I honestly think that smoking is like being an alcoholic. I feel like if I smoked one today, I’d buy a carton tomorrow even though I don’t want to be around it,” he said.

“You have to be ready and that’s where I was at that one point in my life. I honestly believe that it would have killed me. I buried a lot of my friends that I went to school with for (smoking-related deaths).”

American Cancer Society representative Dorothy Nelson said she too quit smoking nearly 30 years ago.

“I quit 28 years ago using methods just like what we’re still using today,” she said, explaining developing a plan and following the tips was helpful to her.

“I managed to stay quit all these years and I am so thankful.”

At 6 p.m. tonight at North Plains Mall the Relay For Life will kick off.

During the kick-off, there will be a presentation about smoking and quitting as well as some resources on hand for those interested in quitting.

Nelson said if a smoker can make it through one day without smoking, “Hopefully they’ll quit tobacco for the rest of their lives. Millions of people have quit.”