Some Iowans will be able to trade a pack of cigarettes for a cold turkey sandwich as part of this week’s 38th annual Great American Smokeout, which is set for Thursday. Chuck Reed, with the American Cancer Society office in Des Moines, says the event is designed for smokers who want to live a healthier life. “It’s a terrific day to not only not smoke for one day but also to develop a plan where you can quit for good,” Reed says.

Estimates find 2,300 Iowans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and 1,800 will die from it. Through events like Thursday’s Smokeout, Reed says smokers can envision their life without tobacco. “If you can quit for a day, that shows you that you can do it and then if you can make that plan and get the support you need and the help, hopefully you can be smoke-free for the rest of your life,” Reed says.

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., yet nearly one in every five Iowans smoke. Studies find cigarette usage has dropped dramatically over the decades. “Right now, the adult smoking rate in Iowa is about 18.1%,” Reed says. “If you go back to post-World War Two days, it was about 50%.”

Various American Cancer Society offices across Iowa will be holding special events on Thursday, like the turkey sandwich giveaways. There’s also a free mobile phone game app where you use a water gun to blast cigarette-smoking zombies. Learn about the steps to take to quit smoking, with resources and support, at 800-227-2345 or the website:

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)