Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year about 443,000 people die from smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. Another 8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, about 46.6 million U.S. adults and 3.6 million youth under the age of 18 use tobacco.
In Hood River County about 9% of adults use tobacco products. The 2012 Wellness Survey shows less than 5 percent of our high school kids have used tobacco in the last month.
Smokeless tobacco, cigars and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal and oral cancers (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Whether you are a smoker or you are a non-smoker, there are health risks to consider. The Surgeon General states there is no safe level of tobacco use – period. There is also no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke. This is because when you inhale second hand smoke you are inhaling many of the same toxins that the smoker inhales. These toxins lead to diseases.
Quitting can be hard. It can be easier if you have help. Here are some quitting tips:
Talk to your doctor about quitting.
n Check your insurance policy. If you have medical insurance, whether Oregon Health Plan, Medicare or private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, policies have different cessation benefits. They can include phone counseling, nicotine patches, other medications, a class or a support group.
Set a date and do it!
n Work exercise into your day. It will help to reduce those urges to use, even if you just take a short, brisk walk when you get a craving.
n Enlist your family and friends to support you.
n Use the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line provides free counseling to help you quit using tobacco. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.quitnow.net/oregon/
n Use the Spanish Quit Line: 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1.855.335356.92) or www.quitnow.net/oregonsp/
Great things happen when you quit!
n Within 20 minutes of quitting your blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature of you feet and hands have returned to normal.
n Twelve hours after quitting your blood oxygen and carbon monoxide levels go back to normal.
n Twenty-four hours after quitting, anxieties have peaked in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.
n You save a lot of money.
n The benefits continue as you begin living your life without tobacco.
Healthy Active Hood River County (HAHRC) is our community healthy living coalition. They promote wellness through increased physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco use prevention and policy and environmental change.
Belinda Ballah is the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families Tobacco Prevention Coordinator