Thursday, November 10, 2022

Nov. 17 is American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout

CDC graphic
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The American Cancer Society's annual Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers are encouraged to quit for the day and make a plan to quit for good, will be observed Thursday, Nov. 17. 

"The Great American Smokeout is more than a reminder of the dangers smoking poses to your health," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It’s a call to act. No matter your age, or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting improves health both immediately and over the long term." 

Cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and Kentucky, killing 8,900 Kentuckians a year. Nationwide, it kills more than 480,000 people, which is nearly one in every five deaths, says the CDC. 

Kentucky's smoking rates have steadily decreased for years, but the bad news is that nearly one in five Kentucky adults, or 19.6%, still smoke; 41% of Kentucky smokers said they had tried to quit in the last year, according to the 2021 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, a national CDC poll. 

The CDC says quitting smoking is one of the most important actions people can take to improve their health and offers a detailed list of the health benefits, including longer life, lowers risk of 12 types of cancer, lowers risk of heart and lung disease, and lower risk of poor pregnancy outcomes.  

Kentucky smokers have a number of tools to help them quit. 

The state runs a 1-800-QUIT-NOW hotline that offers free tobacco-cessation services. 

"The coaches at Quit Now Kentucky can help you make a plan to quit, manage nicotine cravings and get back on track if you have setbacks. Some people even are eligible for free nicotine-replacement therapy like nicotine patches, gum or lozenges," according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services webpage. 

And while Quit Now Kentucky provides free services to people of all ages, middle- and high-school students may want to try "My Life, My Quit," a free, confidential quitline for Kentuckians 17 and younger to help them stop smoking or vaping. Teens can text "Start My Quit" to 36072, or click on the live chat button on the My Life, My Quit website to chat with a coach.    

A 2017 law requires insurers, including Medicaid, to cover all seven tobacco-cessation medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and counseling services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. It also eliminated co-payments for medication and counseling, requirements tying medication coverage to counseling, and limits on length of treatment.

The American Cancer Society also offers a list of resources to help you quit using tobacco products.

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