Elementary students from Auke Bay and Riverbend schools participated in a poster-making event sponsored by Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) for the Great American Smokeout, which is Thursday. The theme for the posters is "Why People Shouldn't Smoke," and the posters are on display at the Nugget Mall.
Thursday marks the 33rd anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, an event started by the American Cancer Society in 1976 to encourage smokers to quit for one day. Research shows that more than 70 percent of smokers want to quit smoking, and 44 percent have made a quit attempt in the past year.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States accounting for more than 438,000 deaths a year.
The good news is that with all the resources available to smokers there's never been a better time to quit. There is no need to suffer the physical withdrawal from nicotine as there are now seven different types of nicotine replacement therapies and two FDA approved anti-craving medications. Nicotine itself while addictive is not carcinogenic. However, cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals, including 69 known human carcinogens.
In addition to getting help with the physical withdrawals, there is free and low-cost help available to support people throughout the quitting process. In recent years, tobacco Quitlines have become very popular and virtually every state has its own Quitline as well as several national ones. Studies have shown that using a Quitline can more than double a person's chance of successfully quitting tobacco.
Alaska's Tobacco Quitline (888-842-QUIT) started in 2001 and offers free nicotine replacement patches as well as supportive and caring quit coaches who work with clients to develop their quit plan. Once the quit plan has been developed and begun, the quit coaches are just a free phone call away for support during those tempting times to smoke. Engaging friends and family for support in the quitting process also increases the chances of success.
SEARHC Clinic has a smoking cessation counselor available for its beneficiaries at 364-4440. Bartlett Regional Hospital also offers low-cost cessation classes on an ongoing basis. The classes are seven weeks long and cost $75. Scholarships are available for those needing financial assistance. The next session starts Jan. 6. To sign up, call 796-8920.
Wendy Hamilton is the tobacco program coordinator for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.