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Great American Smokeout

Posted at: 11/15/2012 6:54 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a one-step-at-a-time idea.  If you can quit for one day, maybe you can quit for a lifetime.

Around the country, smokers are trying to kick-the-habit today.

And most of them have compelling reasons to succeed.

"I've smoked for eight years and I'm 21 years old," Lisa Leidall told us.

On the 37th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, she was at the Tobacco Cessation Clinic at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin to make good on a promise that could impact a number of lives.

The biggest reason for her pledge was sitting on her lap.

"I want to quit smoking and he's my number one reason, my son. He just turned a year old," Leidall said.

“It's one of the most addictive drugs there is, it's right up there with heroin," Deb Skare explained. She’s director of the Tobacco Cessation Clinic.

But despite it’s addictive nature, millions of people are quitting.

"There's 58 million smokers left in the United States, and about that many have also quit," Deb Skare told us.  “So by quitting even for a day it's an important step for them to lead a healthier life."

According to the centers for disease control, cigarette smoking causes about 1 of every 5 deaths in the united states each year and is the most preventable causes of death.

"Lung cancer is a big one, emphysema, heart disease" Deb Skare said.

Lisa Leidall has tried to kick the habit before, "Just tried to quit cold-turkey and lasted maybe two weeks the longest." But even then, she could feel a difference.

"I noticed I was not so out of breath all the time," Leidall explained.

“Some people notice it immediately, even within a day. Their blood pressure goes down to normal, breathing can start being easier just as soon as they quit," Deb Skare added.

And now, Lisa Leidall has a good reason for adding her name to the list of ex-smokers, the little boy sitting on her lap. "I just want to be the healthiest I can be for him."

And here's another sobering statistic -- the CDC says more than 49-thousand people in the United States die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke