Health and Family Services Cabinet
“Great American Smokeout” Set for Nov. 17
FRANKFORT, KY. (Nov. 7, 2005) 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 to challenge people to stop using tobacco products for the day.
Through the event, 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 Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) and the American Cancer Society encourage smokers to take advantage of this year’s Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 17, and quit smoking for good.
“Today is a great opportunity to lay down the foundation for becoming healthy. The Office of Drug Control Policy encourages you to take advantage of the programs offered at health departments, through local ASAP Boards and Champions Coalitions that can assist you with this addiction,” said Teresa Barton, executive director of ODCP. “Quitting smoking saves money and cuts the risks of cancer, lung and heart disease, stroke and other respiratory illnesses.”
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 people will contact their local health department to find out what is happening in their area,” said Irene Centers, program manager for the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program within CHFS. “The Smoke-Out offers public support and a feeling of camaraderie with others who are trying to give up cigarettes.”
Some of the activities taking place across the state include:
• Northern Kentucky Health Department is promoting a Smoke-Free Day of Dining. The event will feature a newspaper ad with a coupon offering “Smoke-Free” dining specials on Nov. 17.
• In Muhlenburg County, the health department will host an all-day event at the Job Corps Center focusing on the hazards of tobacco use and the various methods of quitting.
• The Pennyrile District Health Department will conduct “Operation Storefront,” an initiative where youth visit stores that sell tobacco products to ensure compliance with tobacco sale and display regulations.
• In Mercer County, the health department uses this opportunity to distribute updated copies of the area’s Smoke-Free Dining Guide.
• Woodford County is planning a weekend event to educate high school athletes about the hazards of tobacco use and effects on health and physical activity.
• The Marion County Library will hold a karaoke event for teens on Nov. 17 to draw attention to the health risks of tobacco use.
• St. Catharine College in Washington County is launching a “Look Who Has Quit” campaign that will include short statements from former smokers about the positive outcomes of quitting.
Kentucky, at 27.5 percent, leads the nation in the number of adults who smoke, according to a study released by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The state’s youth tobacco survey indicates the prevalence of teen smoking is 28 percent. The percentage of women who smoke during their pregnancy is 24 percent. Kentucky has the fifth highest occurrence of heart disease and leads the nation in lung cancer mortality.
Additionally, Kentucky’s annual health care costs directly attributable to smoking are $1.17 billion; the portion covered by the state’s Medicaid program is $380 million.
“Very few people quit the first time they try,” said Centers. “We want to encourage people to keep trying.”
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; but 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.
“I encourage smokers to contact their local health department for a schedule of smoking cessation programs in their area,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of public health. “Smokers can also speak with their personal physician who can explain the health risks of smoking and the effect it is having on their health and quality of life.”
A national quit line is available to provide brief intervention when the conviction to quit waivers. Kentucky’s tobacco cessation quit line number, 1-(800)-QUIT NOW, puts users in touch with programs that can help them give up tobacco by automatically routing callers to the state-run quit line.
The Health and Human Services Web site, www.smokefree.gov, offers online advice and downloadable information to make cessation easier. The American Lung Association also offers a Web-based smoking cessation program, Freedom from Smoking, at www.lungusa.org/ffs/index.html for individual assistance.
For online information about the Cooper/Clayton Method to Stop Smoking, visit www.kcr.uky.edu/kcp/cooperclayton.htm.
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.
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