Many resolve to stop smoking at the start of the new year. We wish you luck and want you to know help is out there.
A study released this week shows anti-smoking measures have saved about 8 million lives since it was determined in 1964 that there is a link between smoking and various diseases. This week is the 50th anniversary of the surgeon general report that raised concerns about smoking. Prior to that report, 42 percent of American adults smoked. Today, that percentage has dropped to 18. In southeast Ohio, the smoking rate is 31 percent compared to 25.9 percent for the state of Ohio.
America can do better. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports about 443,000 Americans still die prematurely each year because of smoking-related illness.
This week the Associated Press reports other countries have stricter rules about cigarette advertising, higher taxes on cigarettes and many countries allow graphic labels that were resisted here in the U.S. Tobacco companies blocked such labels from appearing on cigarette packaging last year.
Smoking isn't the only issue. Smokeless tobacco is also a concern. Adult use of smokeless tobacco is about 6 percent in Washington County, that's higher than other areas of Ohio that see a 2.8 percent use.
Ultimately, it's up to the individual to know the dangers associated with smoking and make the decision to quit. As we said, help is out there. Locally, Selby General Hospital oversees anti-smoking programs in Washington County. To find out details about classes, call (740) 374-2229. Classes to stop smoking/chewing begin in February and run through May.
Another resource is the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line at (800) 784-8669. There, callers can get free counseling and also receive a Quit Kit, which includes information about tobacco use and tips for quitting. It can also provide information about support groups and other help available in the caller's local area.
If you are a smoker on the fence about smoking, don't wait. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.