Great American Smokeout at Cal Poly and Cuesta College, November 2017. Photo by Public Health Department.
Great American Smokeout at Cal Poly and Cuesta College, November 2017. Photo by Public Health Department.

Great American Smokeout Challenges Smokers to Quit, Non-Smokers to Lend Support

Author: Public Health Department
Date: Friday, November 17, 2017 3:04 PM

"Cold Turkey" events engage local students in promoting health, protecting environment.


Smokers and non-smokers alike made a difference as part of the Great American Smokeout on  Thursday, November 16 across San Luis Obispo County. The County of San Luis Obispo Tobacco Control Program hosted "Cold Turkey" events to encourage smokers to quit—for one day or forever—and encourage non-smokers to lend their support by picking up cigarette litter and cheering on friends and family who decided to quit.

“We're all affected by this issue, whether it's through secondhand smoke, the environmental impact of litter, or the direct health effects of smoking,” said Inger Appanaitis, program manager for tobacco control for the County of San Luis Obispo. “That's why we encourage everyone do their part and help make SLO County a healthier place. Throughout the year, we're here to support everyone who is ready to quit.”

While the issue is serious, the event approach was light-hearted: students and community members who signed a pledge to quit smoking were rewarded with a cold turkey sandwich and information about County resources to support them in quitting. Those who don't smoke earned their own turkey sandwich by helping pick up cigarette litter.

Why is it so important to quit, and why are students an important part of this event?

  • Smoking is the leading cause of heart attacks and heart disease. Many of these heart risks can be reversed simply by quitting smoking. Quitting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately. Your risk of a heart attack declines within 24 hours.
  • Quitting smoking will prevent new DNA damage from happening and can even help repair the damage that has already been done. That means lowering your risk of getting cancer.
  • Quitting smoking can re-wire your brain and help break the cycle of addiction. The large number of nicotine receptors in your brain will return to normal levels after about a month of not smoking.
  • An estimated 4.95 trillion cigarette butts are littered annually worldwide, making them the most littered item on earth. Smoke- and tobacco-free policies—like Cal Poly's new smoke-free campus policy—reduce cigarette litter and the risk of fire on campuses.
  • Preventing tobacco use among college students is especially important because 99 percent of smokers start smoking before turning 26 years old.

The "cold turkey" reward is a reminder of the many effective ways to quit. The Tobacco Control program offers support and resources—including free Quit Smoking classes, group support, and nicotine replacement—for residents year-round.

To learn more about resources available, visit www.slocounty.ca.gov/quit-tobacco.