Did you know that tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States? Each year, smoking accounts for 443,000 premature deaths and, according to the American Cancer Society, thousands of non-smokers die as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Thursday, Nov. 19, is the Great American Smokeout, and there is no better time than now to quit the use of any tobacco product.

Beyond the health hazards of smoking to consider, there is also the financial cost to think about.

In 2009, the federal tobacco tax increase added an additional 62 cents to the price of each pack of cigarettes.

According to The Coalition for Tobacco Free Kids, a pack-a-day smoker spends around $2,000 a year on cigarettes. With the rising cost of tobacco and the current economy, this would be the perfect time to finally quit for good.

Beyond the extra savings on cigarettes, quitting smoking could also save you on the cost of extra medical expenses, doctor visits, medications and other health issues associated with the use of tobacco and secondhand smoke.

It takes the average person multiple quit attempts to quit for good, but you can beat the odds with help and support. Smokers who have support are more successful at quitting smoking than those who go it alone. You can call the American Cancer Society Quitline at (800) 227-2345 to receive information and support.

The Coalition of Angelina, Polk and San Augustine counties offers free virtual cessation support. For more information, go to project-quit.org.

You can also contact the Region 5 Prevention Resource Center for more information on cessation support by calling (844) 772-3483.

Join the millions who will make Thursday a tobacco-free day.

Kim Bartel works for the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council’s Region 5 Prevention Resource Center.