Great American Smokeout gets started early in Tucson

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Thursday marks the 35th annual Great American Smokeout. It's a time when smokers are encouraged to kick the habit.

The phones were ringing off the hook at the Arizona Smokers helpline Wednesday.

"Starting monday it got very busy for us like we had almost 1500 phone calls its noon on wednesday, normally we get a thousand calls a week," said Stephen Michael from the Arizona Smokers Helpline.

The number of calls mean there are plenty of smokers out there trying to quit.  Helpline coaches know first hand the dangers of smoking.

"One of the things they all come with is some experience with tobacco and some are former smokers and have gone through the struggles," said Stephen Michael.

Rupert Pacheco has been smoking since he was 12.

"I don't know, I just took a cigarette from my mom one day," said Pacheco.  "I liked the light headness I got and just kept on going."

He has tried several times to quit using several methods.

"I tried almost everything the only thing that really works for me is cold turkey," said Pacheco.  "Everytime I quit I get massive headaches it doesn't work."

"Because tobacco really focuses on the pleasure part of the brain when your smoking the nicotine trigers a postive response in the brain," said Stephen Michael.

And Pacheco agrees, "Now it just calms me down, it puts me in the right place."

He says he will try again to quit.  But it's a slow process.

"Actually, yeah, I am cutting down.  I have had this pack of cigareets for 2 days its really good for me since I used to smoke a pack an hour," said Pacheco.

The Great American Smokeout began back in 1977.