Important step toward health


Kathie Cox - Contributing columnist



The American Cancer Society marks the 39th Great American Smokeout, this Thursday by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. This year’s theme is “QUIT Like a Champion!” By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk. It’s a race for your health, and it starts today.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — Nearly 1 in every 5 adults. Even though use of tobacco has declined since the 1970’s, it remains a persistent public health problem and e-cigarettes are threatening to addict a new generation to nicotine. Data from the Centers of Disease Control Branch in 2011 indicated 21.8 percent of adults (age 18+) currently smoke cigarettes in North Carolina. The percentage of youth grades 9-12 who currently smoke cigarettes was 17.7 percent ranking NC 36th among 44 states. There were also 13.2 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.2 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

“Former smokers know how difficult quitting smoking or using tobacco products can be but they also know it is an important step to living a longer and healthier life”, states Kathie Cox, Health Educator with the Scotland County Health Department. “Research shows that some people attempt to quit 7 to 10 times before they succeed, and with the Great American Smokeout, we can all take the first step together. The health benefits of quitting start as soon as a person quits smoking. Quitting while you are younger will help reduce your health risks even more, but quitting at any age can give back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke or using tobacco products.”

The Great American Smokeout is not only about quitting smoking, but also about ensuring all Americans are protected from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke. Every day non-smokers are exposed to the more than 60 known or probable carcinogens and 4,000 chemicals contained in secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, for every eight smokers who die from tobacco-related illnesses, they take one non-smoker with them. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, people who quit smoking, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke, and quitting smoking substantially decreases the risk of lung, laryngeal, esophageal, oral, pancreatic, bladder and cervical cancers.

The Great American Smokeout is part of the American Cancer Society Great American Health Challenge, a year-round initiative that encourages Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to reduce their risk of cancer. If you smoke and want to quit we urge you to call the American Cancer Society’s Quitline, a clinically proven, free telephone-based counseling program, at 1-800-ACS-2345, or log onto www.cancer.org/greatamericans, to begin your personal plan to quit or please stop by the Scotland County Health Department or Scotland Memorial Hospital lobbies for more information or resources you need.

During the week of the Great American Smokeout, the Health Department and hospital will display an exhibit with educational materials and new information about e-cigarettes for those who smoke or use tobacco products and want to quit.

Kathie Cox

Contributing columnist

For information on smoking cessation, contact Kathie Cox, Health Educator II at Scotland County Health Department at 910-277-2470, Ext. 4478, call QuitlineNC 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or 1-800-784-8669.

For information on smoking cessation, contact Kathie Cox, Health Educator II at Scotland County Health Department at 910-277-2470, Ext. 4478, call QuitlineNC 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or 1-800-784-8669.

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