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Great American Smokeout Makes the Most of Mondays

Tomorrow's Great American Smokeout will differ from the 32 previous annual Smokeouts in one big way: It comes with a built-in strategy for staying smoke-free once the day is done.

Millions of American smokers have taken part in the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, which encourages those who want to quit to do so (or at least cut back) on that day.

As anyone who's tried knows, it's one thing to stop smoking for a day. Your resolve may last a week, or maybe 10 days. But keeping it going despite your body's screaming pleas for a hit of nicotine is tough.

This year's Smokeout is linked to an ongoing effort to make every Monday an occasion to check in on your health and well-being. The Healthy Monday campaign, a project of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications gave rise to the Meatless Monday movement, an effort to get people to reduce saturated fat intake by eating no meat one day each week. (That movement inspired Washington Post "A Mighty Appetite" blogger Kim O'Donnel's Meatless Monday feature.)

Healthy Monday's newest application is Stay Quit Monday. The idea is, people try to stay smoke-free until the Monday after the Smokeout (in this case, November 24) and reaffirm their commitment to smoke-free living every Monday thereafter. As its creators note, smokers who fall off the wagon after the Smokeout don't have to wait until next year's Smokeout, or even until that national habit-breaking day, New Year's Day, for inspiration to start anew. There's always another Monday right around the corner, and it's never more than 6 days away.

I don't smoke, but I just love this idea and can see all kinds of ways to use it in my own life. I might not be able to swear off Nutella forever, but I could probably pledge every Monday not to have any for the next week. (Monday's also a good time to reflect on the weekend's excesses.) And if you start the week gung-ho on your exercise routine but find yourself lagging by Thursday, maybe you can resume that gung-ho spirit again come the start of the week.

To all of you who quit smoking tomorrow, best of luck. Remember: your first Stay Quit Monday will be here before you know it. In the meantime, you might want to try signing up here to have someone from the American Cancer Society's Quitline get in touch with you to offer a little support.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  November 19, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  General Health  
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As a Smoker I hate these "Smoke Out" days as I always smoke twice as much! In fact, this story alone got me to light up an extra cigarette! Why do they do this to us, do they really want to get us smoking MORE?

Haven't they ever heard of "out of sight, out of mind", they keep talking about smoking ALL DAY LONG on these "Smoke out" days and it only serves to get us smoking even more than normal.

I think the American Cancer Society MUST be working for the cigarette companies!

Posted by: fixitj | November 19, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

These are exactly the wrong things to do.
We have a planet that is over populated and resources such as clean air and water are getting tight.
Governments all over the world should be encouraging "risky behaviors" to get the population level down.
We should be telling people to smoke a lot, over eat, engage in unsafe sex and to do as many drugs as they can get their hands on.
Maybe in a hundred years it will be time to look at the other side of the equation.

Posted by: mimelc | November 19, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the Washington Post check its facts? The Great American Smokeout is Thursday, not today!

We just can't trust the Post to give us a fair and balanced story anymore.

Posted by: muskratinator | November 19, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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