just quit: Millions are expected to kick the habit | SummitDaily.com

just quit: Millions are expected to kick the habit

More Americans die each year from lung cancer than from breast, prostate, ovarian and colorectal cancers combined, and smoking accounts for 90 percent of lung cancers in men and 70 percent in women, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).Thursday is Great American Smokeout day, a national event designed to increase awareness about the dangers of smoking and encourage millions of smokers to kick the habit.Currently, 21.3 percent of Summit High School students said they used tobacco products one or more times in a month, according to results from a study done in February by Hobart & William Smith Colleges, and 20 percent of adults in Colorado smoke, said Laurie Blackwell, who works at the Summit Prevention Alliance.Blackwell helps prevent kids from smoking, helps smokers quit and educates locals about second-hand smoke.Since 82 percent of smokers tried their first cigarette before age 18, she reaches out to schools through health teachers and will begin a cessation program at Summit High School in January.The entire prevention program began a year ago, and her expansion plans include an educational campaign about second-hand smoke in January, since 58,000 people die yearly from second-hand smoke, according tosmokefreeair.org. Second-hand smoke increases risks for chronic middle ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome and other illnesses in children, Blackwell said.She’s also educating women on the gender-specific risks from tobacco, including fertility problems, complications during pregnancy and higher risks of stroke, osteoporosis, depression and cataracts.Doctors nationwide will detect lung cancer in almost 170,000 people this year, and 155,000 people will die of the cancer. In addition, 119,000 Americans die each year from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Smoking shortens a person’s lifespan by 13 to 14.5 years, according to the ACS.”Lung cancer is one of these things where if you catch it late, you have a five-year survival rate of 15 percent, but if you catch it early, before it spreads out of the lungs, you have a 45 percent survival rate,” said David Sampson, director of media relations at the ACS.Only 15 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in the early stages because symptoms often are overlooked, Sampson said. Symptoms may include chronic cough, chest pain, hoarseness, weight or appetite loss, bloody mucus or phlegm, shortness of breath, fatigue or recurring infections.The ACS provides a variety of progressive, science-based resources to double smokers’ chances of successfully quitting, including the Colorado quitline, which offers free, 24-hour telephone counseling and a customized quitting plan, peer support, material on the latest research and other local resources.The ACS recommends a combination of medications, behavior changes and emotional support to quit smoking. Medications may include nicotine substitutes delivered by skin patches, gum, a nasal spray or inhaler and buproprion (Zyban).”The No. 1 mistake with medication is that people don’t use enough,” said Angela Geiger, director of 10 state quitlines. “They don’t chew enough (nicotine) gum. They only use it for two weeks. They think it’s bad to keep putting the nicotine replacement products in their bodies. It’s not the nicotine that is so bad for you. It’s all the other chemicals people inhale when smoking cigarettes.”The ACS also is searching for current and former smokers to participate in a national lung screening trial. For more information about the study or about lung cancer and tobacco use, visit its Web site at http://www.cancer.org. The Summit Prevention Alliance offers local programs to help smokers quit. For more information, call Blackwell at (970) 668-2077.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

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