CHAMPAIGN — Youthful smokers are the focus of the American Cancer Society's 36th annual Great American Smokeout, set for Thursday.
In Illinois, the smoking rate is higher for youths than adults — about 18 percent for youths, compared with just under 17 percent for adults, the organization says.
The Smokeout is a day on which smokers of all ages are encouraged to try quitting for a day, or to make a plan to quit.
As of 2009, nearly a quarter of high school students were tobacco users. The American Cancer Society estimates about 50 kids in the state take up smoking each day, and about one-third of all youth smokers will eventually die prematurely from smoking-related diseases.
The cancer society says it's reaching out to young people to warn them about smoking dangers and is also pushing for a $1-per-pack state cigarette tax — a move it projects would lower youth smoking by 13 percent and reduce the number of future addicted adult smokers by 110,000.
To help encourage participation in the Smokeout, the American Cancer Society is making free quit kits available Thursday on a first-come, first-served basis at the following locations:
— American Cancer Society, 2509 S. Neil St., C.
— Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, 201 W. Kenyon Road, C.
— Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C.
— Douglass Branch Library, 504 E. Grove St., C.
— University of Illinois McKinley Health Center, 1109 S. Lincoln Ave., U.
— Parkland College Wellness Center, Room X240, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C.
— Planned Parenthood, 302 E. Stoughton St., C.
— UI Wellness Center, 201 E. Peabody Drive, C.
— Urbana Free Library, 201 S. Race St., U.
— Mahomet Public Library, 1702 E. Oak St., Mahomet.
— Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County, 520 E. Wabash Ave., Rantoul.
— Rantoul Public Library, 106 W. Flessner Ave., Rantoul.
For those willing to try quitting now, the Illinois Tobacco Quitline suggests following these five steps:
— First, get ready by setting a quit date, changing your environment, getting rid of all smoking items and ashtrays, forbidding everyone to smoke in your home and around you and reviewing your past attempts to quit. Then, once you quit, don't smoke at all.
— Next, enlist support from family, friends, co-workers, health care providers and others.
— Third: Learn new skills and behaviors.
— Fourth: If you use medication, use it correctly.
— Fifth: Be prepared for difficult situations and avoid drinking alcohol, which lowers your chances of success.
More help is available through the Quitline.
For help online, see: http://www.quityes.org .
For help on the phone, call: 1-866-QUIT-YES.