Last updated: November 19. 2013 6:30PM - 648 Views
Agnes Hapka ahapka@civitasmedia.com

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MASON COUNTY —One approach to quitting smoking is just to set a date on which to stop for one whole day, with the hope of making it a permanent change.

Diana Riddle of the Mason County Health Department, says that’s the point of tomorrow’s Great American Smokeout.

Set for November 21, and sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the event is held annually to encourage smokers to make an advance plan to quit.

“It’s a jump-start to quitting,” Riddle said.

The first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health came out 50 years ago, and significant progress has been made since then; smoking among adults has been reduced by half since 1964. However, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.

According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, in 2010, nearly two out of three adult smokers made attempts to quit. More than half had made a quit attempt for more than a day in the preceding year. Riddle said that it is not uncommon for first-time quitters to relapse.

It’s helpful, Riddle said, to have set date in mind.

“The point of it is to assist people in quitting,” added Teresa Mills, regional tobacco prevention coordinator, “We hope to have people quitting for a day, in anticipation of quitting for good.”

Riddle said it’s also a good idea for those who want to quit to look at the reasons they smoke, as well as the times they typically smoke most, and think of ways to avoid those times. Riddle said that developing a buddy system or support system to help you has proven to be very beneficial.

“Anticipate and plan for challenges,” said Riddle. “Remove cigs from your home, car and workplace, so you’re not tempted.”

“And reward yourself often,” added Riddle.

Quitting smoking is beneficial to health at any age and has immediate and long-term benefits, said Riddle. Studies have shown that 20 minutes after no smoking, heart rate drops; 12 hours after smoking, the carbon monoxide level in the blood drops to normal and within two weeks to three months there will be a noticeable improvement in circulation and lung function can increase up to 30%. The longer a person remains smoke free, your health risks also drop and within a year of no smoking, the risk of having coronary heart disease drops to half that of a smoker’s.

Getting help through counseling or medications can double or triple the chances of quitting successfully. If you are interested in quitting smoking, contact the Mason County Health Department (304)-675-3050 to arrange counseling sessions by either a nurse practitioner or regional counselor.

Additional information and support for quitting is available by telephone (800)-QUIT-NOW or (800)784-8669.

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