January 22, 2022

Community Action Service Advocacy (CASA) Hosts The Great American Smokeout: Day One of a Smoke free Life

Jason Baker, Public Health Advocate/Communications, Community Action Service Advocacy


Smoking is a difficult habit to quit, but with commitment, it can be done.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vaping among college-aged students increased dramatically between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, 6.1 % of college students and 7.9 % of those not in college said they vaped nicotine in the past month, rising 22% and 18% respectively by 2019. These increases in vaping nicotine are among the largest increases in use for any substance reported by the study in its 45-year history.

“Twenty percent of high school students now vape,” said Dr. Eyal Oren, Interim Director and Professor at the San Diego State University School of Public Health. “And while college students are particularly vulnerable to early initiation and nicotine use based on misinformation, turning to e-cigarettes as a coping mechanism may actually amplify feelings of depression and anxiety.”

The Univeristy of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center reported that e-cigarette use, even daily, did not help smokers successfully stay off cigarettes. Dr. John Pierce, professor at the Wertheim School of Public Health and Moores Cancer Center, says that “the individuals who quit smoking and switched to e-cigarettes increased their risk of relapse by 8.5 percent.”

The groups that represent populations with the highest tobacco-use prevalence in California include:

  • Blacks/African Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaska Natives
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning, (LGBTQ) people
  • People of low socioeconomic status or with limited education
  • Rural residents
  • Military personnel and veterans
  • Individuals employed in in jobs not covered by smoke-free workplace laws
  • People with disabilities or behavioral health conditions
  • People with disabilities 
  • School-age youth

Research shows that health improvement begins within hours of quitting smoking. As soon as 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels return to normal. By one year the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.

The week of November 15, 2021, Community Action Service Advocacy (CASA), hosted Great American Smokeout events at locations around San Diego County to promote this message and provide support and resources to people wishing to quit. The local prevention organization worked with multiple organizations to engage volunteers at each location.

The Great American Smokeout is a national event that promotes tobacco and vape cessation by encouraging people to quit even for one day. It was founded to help tobacco and e-cigarette users begin a cessation journey.

CASA Smokeout volunteers distributed quit kits that contained a plan for quitting, along with items like mints, suckers, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a pad and pen for journaling and the “Take Charge” card for Kick It California. A free phone and web-based program, Kick It California provides nicotine users with one-on-one support from a quit coach to guide them through their smoking cessation journey.

Attendees received educational resources and participated in a variety of activities, including simulations that demonstrate lung health and the damage smoking does to the respiratory system. They answered questions about tobacco and vaping, and had the opportunity to spin a wheel for prizes like frisbees, bags, lanyards, and treats. They were also asked to sign an oversized pledge to quit board, making a commitment to end their nicotine addiction or to support a loved one on their cessation journey. 

For more  information on CASA, visit the website at .