FRANKFORT, KY (Nov. 16, 2004) - They say it takes more than one day, but the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the American Cancer Society hope smokers will take advantage of this year’s Great American Smoke-Out on Thursday, November 18, to quit smoking for good.
Kentucky leads the nation in the number of adults who smoke, 30.8 percent, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week. The state rate for teens that smoke is 34 percent, and the percentage of women who smoke during their pregnancy is 24 percent. Kentucky has the fifth highest rate for heart disease and leads the nation in lung cancer mortality. Kentucky’s annual health care costs directly caused by smoking is $1.17 billion; the portion covered by the state’s Medicaid program is $380 million.
Health organizations and health departments across Kentucky and the nation are gearing up for the Great American Smoke-Out, a nationally recognized event to challenge people to stop using tobacco products for the day. The event hopes to raise public awareness of the health risks of tobacco use and the many effective ways available to quit using tobacco.
"Very few people quit the first time they try," said Irene Centers, Program Manager for the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program. "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 is difficult to overcome.
Centers said, "You don’t have to quit cold turkey. People can call the quit line or join a Cooper Clayton cessation program. Addiction to nicotine is physical, mental, and emotional, and each of these aspects should be addressed to help smokers break the smoking habit."
Stop smoking programs like Cooper/Clayton combine nicotine replacement therapy with behavioral modification over a 12-week period. Physicians can also provide prescription medication to help patients deal with withdrawal symptoms from nicotine.
A national quit line is available to provide brief intervention when the conviction to quit waivers. A national quit line number 1-(800)-QUITNOW puts users in touch with programs that can help them give up tobacco. This toll-free number automatically routes callers to the state-run quit line.
A new Health and Human Services web site, When you quit smoking, you set a good example for your children to follow. New research shows that parents who quit while their kids are young reduce the chances that their children will become smokers themselves.
Health departments across Kentucky are planning Great American Smoke-Out activities to help motivate smokers quit. "We hope people will contact their local health department to find out what is happening in their area," said Centers. "The Smoke-Out offers public support and a feeling of camaraderie with others who are trying to give up cigarettes." Historically, more Americans try to quit smoking on this day than any other day of the year, including New Year’s Day.
The Great American Smoke-Out 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.
NOTE TO EDITORS: To set up interviews for this week with Cabinet health officials about the Great American Smoke-Out, please contact Gwenda Bond in the CHFS Communications Office at (502) 564-6786.