By AMBER GINTER
Southern Ohio Today
Cigarette smoking causes 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, with 41,000 of those deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. Every day, 1,300 lives are lost in tobacco-related mortality.
The Great American Smokeout, an effort to encourage smokers to stop smoking, began this week. Locally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Tobacco and Health program, BreatheWell Ross, the Partners for a Healthier Ross County, and the American Cancer Society join together to assist individuals trying to beat smoking.
In promoting its 45th year, BreatheWell Ross and the Partners for a Healthier Ross County have joined the American Cancer Society to not only spread awareness, but support those fighting battles to stop.
“Not only is smoking and other tobacco use contributing to the early death of Ross County citizens, but it also is occurring at higher rates than in other parts of the state and country,” said Kim Jones of Adena Health System and co-chair of Partners for a Healthier Ross County.
In 2016 and 2019, community health needs assessments by Partners for a Healthier Ross County reported that smoking was linked to three of the top five leading causes of death in the community, including heart disease, lung cancer, and other respiratory issues like COPD.
Although smoking continues to be the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States, Kim Hardesty, coordinator of BreatheWell, notes that smokers can and will quit smoking when supported.
“We can continue to see more former smokers than current smokers if the community works together to encourage cessation and provide the support needed to quit,” Hardesty said.
In similar efforts, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) encourages veterans to take the first step to stop smoking by improving their physical and mental health through cessation counseling, clinical resources, and support.
As noted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, behavioral counseling can significantly improve the chances of quitting, and combining counseling with medication works better than using medication or counseling alone.
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, smoking cessation support remains available, and virtual appointments are available.
To make an appointment or for more information about tobacco cessation, contact Dr. Kamara McGill at (740) 773-1141, extension 6941, or visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov/quit-tobacco. For more information on smoking and vaping cessation, contact Kim Hardesty at the Ross County Health District at (740) 779-9652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.