FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thousands of people across the country are taking action to begin a smoke-free life.
November 16 is the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.
It's an annual event that encourages individuals to take the first step to quit smoking and start a healthier life.
"Long-term smoking is associated with higher risk of heart disease, lung disease and cancers," shared Kaiser Permanente's Dr. Nicole Calvillo. "So that includes heart attacks and strokes."
Kaiser is also making an effort to help patients, across the Valley and Northern California, quit - with the "100,000 Quitters" campaign. The healthcare system has already helped 300,000 patients put down their cigarettes.
"We're aiming for a 5% prevalence rate with smoking, which is lower than the state average, which is more around eight to 12%," Dr. Calvillo said.
While smoking rates drop, she said vaping among young adults and teens is increasing.
"Nicotine is highly addictive for anybody -- but especially for developing brains -- that can be especially problematic," said Dr. Calvillo. "So we do encourage parents to check their kids' backpacks to regularly talk about the dangers of vaping."
She said many patients turn to e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, but there are healthier ways.
"It's much more effective to use the nicotine replacement aids, in conjunction with talking with one of our wellness coaches," explained Dr. Calvillo.
Local doctors encourage those thinking of quitting smoking to talk to their primary care physicians for support, since they said it takes about eight to 11 attempts for someone to become smoke-free.