Livvy Smith feels like a punch line in a comedy routine. It's easy to quit smoking. She's done it lots of times.
Smith was a teenager when she took her first puff from a cigarette.
While she knew the dangers of smoking - the increased risk of heart disease, cancer and breathing disorders - Smith gave in to peer pressure.
"All of my friends smoked, so I wanted to be part of the crowd," she said.
It wasn't long, though, before she began to hate how the smell of cigarettes lingered in her hair and clothes and how her fingers turned yellow.
But whenever she tried to kick the habit, those addictive cravings returned.
Tobacco trumped reasonable thinking every time.
Now, its different, the Hagerstown woman said. She's quitting for her grandchild.
At the age of 59, after more than 40 years of smoking, Smith is fulfilling a promise to her 7-year-old grandson who has asked her to give up cigarettes.
"How can I say no?" she said.
Smith is seeking help from her physician and has the support of family and friends.
"I wish I would have had the willpower to quit years ago," she said. "My advice to the younger generation is to never start."
Marquita Davis agrees.
As director of Minority Outreach and Technical Assistance (MOTA), it's Davis' job to promote healthy lifestyles.
And one of her top missions is eliminating the use of tobacco.
"Cancer is the No. 1 cause of death in the state of Maryland," Davis said. And many of the deaths are related to smoking.
According to the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoking in the United States accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and is linked with an increased risk of such cancers as lung, larynx, oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney and acute myeloid leukemia.
Use of tobacco can increase the risk of miscarriage, early delivery and stillbirth and can make pneumonia and asthma worse. It also can have harmful health effects on those exposed to it.
But because cigarettes and the use of tobacco, in general, are acquired behaviors — activities that people choose to do — smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society, Davis said.
In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use, Davis said MOTA will be sponsoring a Smoke Free Community Day from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, at the Martin Luther King Center gymnasium on North Street in Hagerstown.
The event is being held in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day.
Davis said MOTA has been in Washington County for 10 years and is a state-funded program advocating for the improvement of minority health by promoting healthy lifestyles, including yearly checkups, exercise and nutritious diets.
Although the program is targeted to minorities, MOTA advocates for all racial/ethnic groups, she said.
In the past, similar programs were held by the community-based organization Brothers Who Dare to Care and the Washington County Health Department, Davis said. This is the first year it has been offered by MOTA.
In addition to literature and vendors, Davis said Smoke Free Community Day will also feature demonstrations by Premier Martial Arts, Judah Praise Dance and MRC Cheer Group.
There will be face painting, free food and prize drawings and giveaways.
While MOTA targets minorities, Davis said the public is invited to attend the event.
If you go ...