The local chapter of the American Cancer Society is encouraging smokers and other tobacco users to go "cold turkey" for a day during the Great American Smoke-out Thursday, Nov. 15.

The event, which last year convinced nearly 18 million smokers nationally to quit for a day, is intended to help smokers decrease their dependency on tobacco, says Duane Meacham, executive director of the local Cancer Society office."If they quit for 24 hours, maybe they'll quit for good. At the very least, they'll have one success to build on in future attempts to quit smoking," he said.

Three days after last year's

smokeout, 3.9 million of those who quit as part of the event were still not smoking.

"Quitting is definitely `in,"' says Larry Tucker, Brigham Young University's director of health promotion.

"More than 30 million Americans have quit smoking - that means more than half of all the people who have ever smoked are now non-smokers."

Tucker says Utah has the lowest percentage of smokers in the country - just 18 percent. Last year, there were 300 deaths from lung cancer in Utah. Tobacco smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke are considered major risk factors for the disease.

Tucker says the main reason it is so difficult to give up smoking is nicotine addiction.

"Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man.

Lately it has been paired by the surgeon general with heroin, cocaine and other frightening drugs."

"We don't realize how powerful nicotine is - once a person uses it, whether it be through cigarettes or whether it be through smokeless tobacco, it's very difficult to give up," he said.

The local American Cancer Society office has literature and researchbased suggestions available for smokers who want to quit, Meacham said.

The Provo office is at 327 N. Freedom Blvd.

Meacham says local programs, like the Smokeout and educational seminars being presented at schools and businesses, provide incentive and support to quit smoking. A Fresh Start program, administered by Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, is also available to provide encouragement for those who want to quit.

"We realize it's not an easy thing to live without tobacco for even a day - but tobacco users have got to keep trying and never give up until they finally are able to kick the habit," Meacham said.

He said the Smokeout is also a day when non-smokers offer their support, and voice their concern, to friends. The local office has Adopta-Smoker contracts available so friends and family members can pledge to offer the specific support the quitter needs.

ACS figures show cigarette smoking has declined among men but still continues to be prevalent among women. In 1987, lung cancer replaced breast cancer as the major cause of death in women.