Will your organization be participating in this year’s Great American Smokeout (#GASO)?

GASO occurs every year on the third Thursday of November. This year, that falls on November 16. The goal is to encourage smokers to select a quit date they can plan and get support for.

Quitting smoking for just one day can make a difference. According to the American Cancer Society, after just 20 minutes without a cigarette, blood pressure and heart rate drop.1 After 12 hours without a cigarette, carbon monoxide levels in the blood will actually drop back down to normal.2 Quitting for a day is an accomplishment for a smoker. Smoking is one of strongest and most deadly addictions a person can experience.3 Quitting is a process that often takes time and requires a lot of support.

Participating in GASO may offer your smokers the confidence and motivation they need to quit for a lifetime. Chances are most of your employees who smoke have tried to quit before and have lost confidence due to repeated failed attempts. Research shows it is not uncommon for smokers to try up to 30 times before succeeding at remaining tobacco-free for one year or more.4 Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 70 percent of smokers want to quit.5 Your employees, in other words, are ready to hear what you have to offer.

If you’re planning to help your organization participate, we salute your commitment to implementing practices and policies to support a healthier future for all employees. The American Cancer Society GASO website has wealth of materials to help you get started. And if you’re already working your tobacco-cessation program through us, you’ll be hearing from your client manager.

Since 1985, we’ve collaborated with the American Cancer Society to help more than 3.5 million people quit smoking. To learn more about our tobacco-cessation program and how Optum can help your employees plan their quit, visit optum.com and ask to hear from a program specialist from the Quit For Life® Program. We’ll team your employees who use tobacco with specially trained Quit Coach® staff who give them guidance and support toward quitting for good.

1. American Cancer Society. The Great American Smokeout. cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html#resources. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Quitting smoking among adults — United States, 2001–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 60:1513–1519.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/mmwrs/byyear/2011/mm6044a2/intro.htm. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017. Latest data available.
3. ACS. GASO communications toolkit for business. cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/online-documents/en/pdf/flyers/gaso-business-toolkit-2017.pdf.
4. Chaiton et al. Estimating the number of quit attempts. BMJ Journals; 2016. bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/6/e011045. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.
5. CDC. Quitting smoking. cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/cessation/quitting/. Accessed Sept. 8, 2017.


About the Author:

Mary Kokstis, senior director of Product Management, oversees Optum Wellness Coaching Solutions and has over 17 years of experience with the Optum tobacco-cessation program, Quit For Life®, serving employers, health plans and government clients. She currently serves on the North American Quitline Consortium advisory board council and is an experienced leader in wellness product innovation, marketing and operations.

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