The American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout is today.

Nick Krug/Lawrence Journal-World

The American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout is today.

Great American Smokeout is today

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If you go

• In Craig:

Smoking cessation information and aids, such as nicotine patches and a free Quit Kit, are available at the Craig Visiting Nurses Association, 745 Russell St.

• By phone:

Those who want to quit or those who are thinking about quitting can seek help and support from the Colorado QuitLine, a free telephone coaching service for quitting tobacco that offers a free supply of the patch. To contact the QuitLine, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.coquitline.org for Web-based cessation tools. QuitLine coaches are available Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

— If improving your health isn't enough of an incentive to finally kick the smoking habit, maybe money is.

Here's how the cost of cigarettes adds up for someone who smokes a pack a day:

• At an average cost of $4.50 per pack, that person could instead buy a sub sandwich each day.

• In a week, that adds up to $31.50, or a nice dinner for two.

• In a month, it amounts to $135. Within two months, the person could purchase a Nintendo Wii system, which would give them something else to do with their hands.

• In a year, a person could save $1,643. That's enough to buy a 50-inch plasma television.

That's a chunk of change, and smokers know it.

Money can be a motivator, according to Aynsley Anderson, a community education coordinator who teaches smoking cessation classes in Lawrence, Kan.

"I almost always hear from at least somebody in the class who says, 'I just can't afford this anymore.' When they think about the money that they are throwing away on it, it really is pretty staggering," Anderson said.

She advises those who are trying to quit to put their savings from not buying cigarettes into a jar and watch it pile up.

"It's just one of those expenses that they just eat - thinking 'I have to have this,'" she said. "But it can be a significant amount of money, and it's not going to get any less."

With the holidays approaching and the economy in the tank, are smokers willing to give up their expensive habit? Not necessarily.

Outside one coffeeshop in Lawrence, Dan Smoley, 64, was smoking a Camel cigarette. He spends about $4 per day on the habit that he picked up at age 17.

"I spend more than I should," he said, blaming the Kansas government for penalizing smokers with higher taxes.

Smoley is not happy about it, but he will pay more if necessary.

"I have no apologies for being addicted to caffeine, nicotine and gasoline," he said. "I don't want to live without any one of those three."

Colorado also has raised taxes on cigarettes. Voters passed Amendment 35 in 2004, which raised the tax on a pack of cigarettes from 20 cents to 84 cents.

Smoley had no plans to participate today in the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, but supports those who do. It's just not for him, he said.

It's also not for 48-year-old Genelle Denneny, who started smoking at age 19.

"I just quit trying to quit, because it was too depressing," she said while puffing on a cigarette with a co-worker.

Denneny said she spends about $30 per week on cigarettes.

"It's a fairly expensive habit, but I don't mind paying for it. I mean, it's a vice," she said.

Smoking isn't only costly for smokers, but everyone else as well.

In 1999, the American Cancer Society estimated heath care costs associated with each pack of cigarettes sold. Adjusted for inflation, $4.53 was spent on medical care because of smoking and $4.90 was lost in workplace productivity, for a total cost to society of $9.43 per pack.

Throughout their lives, smokers and former smokers generate an estimated $501 billion in excess health care costs nationwide. Tobacco costs Medicare more than $10 billion per year.

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