A Time to Quit

Despite decreasing numbers of smokers in the state, Oklahomans still struggle with tobacco.

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Any time is right to quit smoking or using tobacco, and the American Cancer Society is here to help.

“Giving up cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use is one of the most important things an individual can do to improve their health,” says Mark Beutler, director of communications for the American Cancer Society of Oklahoma. “The American Cancer Society of Oklahoma encourages tobacco users and their loved ones to join us Nov. 16 to commit to a healthy, tobacco-free life.”

Beutler refers to the Great American Smokeout, an annual, nationwide event organized by the cancer society. The day is often used as a springboard for smokers to turn over a new leaf.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of adult Oklahomans who smoke decreased from 22.1 percent in 2015 to 19.6 percent in 2016, an all-time low. However, despite this good news, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports around 31 percent of cancer deaths in Oklahoma are attributable to smoking, and 2,400 Oklahomans under age 18 become new, daily smokers each year. In addition, e-cigarette use has risen dramatically and is considered the most commonly used tobacco product among young people.

“The science on e-cigarettes is still out, but what we do know? Nicotine is not good for the developing young brain in whatever form it is in,” says John Woods, executive director of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. “It is disturbing that young people are not heeding the warnings. Some people are reporting great success in quitting smoking with e-cigs, but at this point there are proven ways to quit smoking, and e-cigarettes are not one of them.”

Beutler says quitting smoking is one of the most difficult tasks a person can face.

“Tobacco is one of the strongest and most deadly addictions one can have,” he says. “Quitting is a process and starts with a plan. It takes willpower and commitment, and it also takes a great deal of support. If you have family members around, great; they will undoubtedly be on board to help. And we are here, too. The American Cancer Society of Oklahoma will be there on every step of your journey. Just call us.”

Tobacco’s Toll

Tobacco puts at risk the health of Oklahoma communities and businesses. Tobacco Stops With Me, a program of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, encourages tobacco-free policies.

“Tobacco costs us all, whether we smoke or not,” endowment executive director John Woods says. “Smoking costs Oklahoma businesses nearly $5,800 per smoker [annually]. Smokers tend to miss more work for illnesses compared to nonsmokers. Tobacco-free workplace policies demonstrate that employers care about the heatlh of their employees, customers and community. Tobacco-free policies reduce business costs.”

Secondhand smoke is hazardous. Air-cleaning and ventilation systems or separate smoking sections do not eliminate risks. Secondhand smoke kills about 41,000 nonsmokers nationwide each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Resources

American Cancer Society
cancer.org/smokeout
1-800-227-2345

Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline
OKHelpline.com
1-800-QUIT-NOW
1-800-784-8669

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