Health and Family Services Cabinet
Great American Smokeout Set for Nov. 15
Health organizations and local health departments across Kentucky and the nation once again are gearing up for the Great American Smokeout, a nationally recognized event that challenges people to stop using tobacco products for the day.
Health officials hope to raise public awareness of the health risks of tobacco use and the many effective ways available to quit using tobacco. The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), Governor’s Office of Wellness and Physical Activity (GOWPA) and the American Cancer Society encourage smokers to take advantage of this year’s Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 15, and quit smoking for good.
“I encourage smokers to contact their local health department for a schedule of smoking cessation programs in their area,” said William Hacker, M.D., DPH commissioner. “Smokers can also speak with their personal physician who can explain the health risks of smoking and the effect it has on their health and quality of life.”
Historically, Americans try to quit smoking during the Great American Smokeout more than any other day of the year, including New Year’s Day.
“We hope to encourage Kentuckians to take advantage of the programs offered at health departments to help them quit,” said Chris Corbin, executive director of GOWPA. “Quitting smoking saves money and cuts the risks of cancer, lung and heart disease, stroke and other respiratory illnesses.”
Some of the activities taking place across the state include:
· In Boyle County, two local High School Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) groups will sign and send cards to all of Boyle County’s 39 smoke-free restaurants thanking them for providing a smoke-free environment for their employees and patrons.
· Mercer County restaurants going smoke-free Nov. 15 will be publicly thanked in local newspapers for providing a healthier environment for their employees and patrons.
· Burgin School TATU will have a media event displaying 1,200 pairs of shoes to bring attention to the 1,200 people in the U.S. who die every day from tobacco-related illness and disease.
· At the Mercer County High School 9th Grade Academy, a banner, "A Show of Hands" for a smoke-free school campus, will be displayed.
· Mercer County and Burgin TATU students will wear their orange t-shirts the day of the Great American Smokeout. The T-shirts have the message: Teeth Whitening = $650, Pack a day habit = $1,080 a year, One Round of Chemotherapy = $157,000, Smoke-free symbol = Priceless. Also in Mercer County and Burgin, students will adopt a smoker. To show their support, the students will give up something special to them such as gum, candy, soda, television or the Internet.
· In the Gateway Health District, the Youth Advisory Board is distributing Great American Smokeout signs to local business and restaurants to encourage their participation in a smoke-free day.
· In Green County, six local businesses and restaurants plan to become smoke-free for the day.
· In the Pennyrile District, youth groups have been visiting local businesses and restaurants with secondhand smoke materials and information on the benefits of being smoke-free.
· Franklin County Health Department staff has prepared quit assist bags to help people quit smoking for the day. People wanting to quit can stop by the local health department to pick up a quit assist bag.
· Clark County plans an ad in the local newspaper highlighting and thanking local restaurants that have become smoke-free year-round.
· The Green River District Health Department plans a newspaper and radio campaign during November to educate business owners and their patrons about the health risks of secondhand smoke.
Kentucky, at 28.5 percent, leads the nation in the number of adults who smoke, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. According to the 2006 Youth Tobacco Survey, the current high school smoking rate is 24.5 percent, and the middle school smoking rate is 12 percent. Both are higher than the national average. The percentage of women who smoke during their pregnancy is 26.7 percent.
Kentucky has the fifth highest occurrence of heart disease and leads the nation in lung cancer deaths. Annual health care costs in Kentucky directly attributable to smoking total $1.17 billion, with $380 million of that total coming from the state and federally funded Medicaid program.
The results of numerous surveys indicate that two-thirds of all smokers say they would like to quit smoking, and nearly half of all smokers try to quit smoking each year. However, the addiction to nicotine can be difficult to overcome. Stop smoking programs like Cooper/Clayton combine nicotine replacement therapy with behavioral modification over a 12-week period.
Physicians also can provide prescription medication to help patients deal with withdrawal symptoms from nicotine.
Kentucky’s Tobacco Quit Line offers individualized cessation counseling for all tobacco users, including spit and chew tobacco, and a specialized protocol for pregnant women who smoke. English and Spanish language counselors are available. Call Kentucky’s Tobacco Quit Line at 1-(800)-QUIT NOW, (1-800-784-8669).
When you call Kentucky’s Tobacco Quit Line, you’ll receive free:
· Support and advice from an experienced quit specialist
· A personalized quit program with self-help materials
· The latest information about the medications that can help you quit
The Great American Smokeout is a national campaign initiated by the American Cancer Society in 1977 to draw attention to the health risks of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.