Every year on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout.

Tobacco users may use the date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day. The Great American Smokeout event challenges people to stop using tobacco and helps people learn about the many tools they can use to help them quit and remain tobacco free.

Each year, about 200,000 people in the United States learn that they have lung cancer and more than 150,000 people die from lung cancer. About 90 percent of lung cancers are linked with cigarette smoke. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths and the second most common cancer among both men and women in the United States. The most important thing you can do to lower your lung cancer risk is to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

Join us at the Fort Knox Exchange from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in observance of the Great American Smokeout.

Not everyone who goes through the tobacco cessation program is successful, but those who try and fail can learn from their failure. Finding out what contributed to the failure and learning from it will only make you better prepared for your next quit attempt.

The smokeout will be a great opportunity for tobacco users to quit smoking or prepare to quit. It's hard to quit tobacco. Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have support, such as:

- Telephone smoking-cessation hotlines

- Support groups

- Online support groups

- Counseling

- Nicotine replacement

- Prescription medicine to lessen cravings

- Guide books

- Encouragement and support from friends and family members.

Using two or more of these measures to quit smoking works better than using any one of them alone.

Quitting smoking can be hard, so a good plan can help you get past symptoms of withdrawal. The following five steps can help.

1. Set a quit date. Choose the Great American Smokeout or another quit day within the next two weeks.

2. Tell your family and friends your plan to quit. Share your quit date with the important people in your life and ask for support.

3. Anticipate and plan for challenges. The urge to smoke is short--usually only three to five minutes. Surprised? Those moments can feel intense. Before your quit day, write down healthy ways to cope. Even one puff can feed a craving and make it stronger. Healthy choices include drinking water, taking a walk or climbing the stairs, listening to a favorite song or playing a game, and calling or texting a friend.

4. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your home, car and workplace. Throw away your cigarettes, matches, lighters and ashtrays. Clean and freshen your car, home and workplace. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.

5. Talk to your pharmacist, doctor, or quit line coach about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum, or other approved quit medicines may help with cravings.

Telephone stop-smoking hotlines are an easy-to-use resources, available in all 50 states. The following two resources are very helpful: the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345; and the Tricare Kentucky Tobacco Cessation Quit line at (866) 459-8766. Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Army Public Health Nursing offers all Tricare beneficiaries and DOD civilians tobacco cessation support. To register, call Army Public Health Nursing at (502) 624-0563 or 0564.

Tricare covers both prescription and over-the-counter tobacco cessation products. Covered tobacco cessation products are available at no cost through military pharmacies and Tricare pharmacy home delivery. Tobacco cessation products are not covered when purchased at retail pharmacies.

Federal employees: If you're a federal employee trying to quit smoking or dipping, tobacco cessation services and products are available to you. All plans in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program include tobacco cessation benefits: Four tobacco cessation counseling sessions of at least 30 minutes, including telephone, group and individual counseling. Two quit attempts are covered each year.

There are no copayments or coinsurance for these services. Any federal employee or their family member who is covered by an FEHB plan can use these tobacco cessation services.

For more help, visit ucanquit2.org, smokefree.gov or cancer.org.