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Think about quitting: Great American Smokeout is Nov. 16

Help is available for smokers who want to make a move to quit smoking this month—even for one day—by taking part in the Great American Smokeout.

"Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout event," the American Cancer Society reported. "Encourage someone you know to use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day. By quitting—even for one day—smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk."

Tool kit information for individuals and businesses are available online—bit.ly/2xzeSKE—through the American Cancer Society.

In Minnesota, there are numerous free tools and help for residents through Quit Plan Services, which is available at www.quitplan.com.

"Quit Plan Services is here for one simple reason," To do everything we can to help you conquer your addiction and become 100 percent tobacco-free. Not with lectures, but with genuine support. ... And even if you're not ready right now, we'll be here when you are."

Quit Plan offers text messaging with tips, practical advice and encouragement and is available to Minnesota adults 18 or older. The program offers two weeks of free patches, gum or lozenges to help people get started with their efforts to quit tobacco. Other services include an email program and quit guide as well as a helpline offering one-on-one phone coaching sessions with trained counselors. The website contains additional information, including a quit smoking calculator to provide a look in dollars and cents what smoking costs individuals just in the price per pack.

Quitting smoking is one of the most difficult things to do, so to tackle the challenge, Essentia Health reported it hired a team from the Mayo Clinic to train Essentia's certified tobacco treatment specialists in the most in-depth proven course in the nation to help people stop smoking.

"The best way to quit smoking is one-on-one counseling, combined with medications, and those could be nicotine patches, lozenges, or prescription medications," said Jill Doberstein, who heads up Essentia's tobacco cessation efforts, in a news release.

Essentia's tobacco cessation specialists are available at local clinics and newly have a toll-free number for patients to call and schedule a counseling session. Previously, counseling was done as part of a primary care referral.

Smokers may want to consider joining others on Thursday, Nov, 16, which marks the annual Great American Smokeout. The American Cancer Society annual celebrates the Great American Smokeout as a day to challenge people to make a plan to or actually stop using tobacco.

When smokers begin to decrease their tobacco intake, Essentia also has a new visual device that helps them gauge their progress.

"We purchased a number of carbon monoxide breathalyzer-type devices," Doberstein said. "Smokers can watch as their carbon monoxide levels decrease with each week as they quit."

Essentia reports most insurance companies cover the cost of counseling sessions and nicotine replacement products, but it's best to contact individual insurance providers for details.

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