The Morgan County Health Department is challenging local smokers to put down their cigarettes for the next 24 hours as part of the Great American Smokeout.
The national campaign organized by the American Cancer Society designates every third Thursday in November as the time to start kicking the habit.
Morgan County Health Department’s Tobacco Program Coordinator Bonnie Mueller says while rates have gone down in recent years, smoking remains a major health risk for local residents.
“Smoking is still something that we need to work on here in Illinois and here specifically in Morgan County. We find that young people are smoking more than older adults and part of that is because as people get older, they become ill, so those folks have a big reason to quit smoking and also, unfortunately, people are dying because of their smoking habits,” says Mueller.
A recent trend within the smoking community is the use of electronic cigarettes, particularly among younger smokers. Mueller discusses the effects of this alternative smoking method.
“E-cigarettes have definitely taken a big jump here among the young adults. They think that this is going to help them not become smokers like we would typically think of a smoker. It’s not a good health choice in replacement of smoking, stopping completely or never starting is your best choice,” Mueller explains.
Mueller provides some simple tips to help prevent the urge of smoking.
“Get rid of ash trays, put cigarettes away, do not allow yourself to pick them up. If you’re driving, that’s one of the triggers that most people like to light up when they get into vehicles. Put the cigarettes in the trunk, don’t allow yourself to have them sitting right next to you so it makes it easier for you to fail. One other tip is avoid other smokers, they can take you down with them,” says Mueller.
While the Great American Smokeout is a 24-hour challenge, Mueller says the ultimate goal is giving up smoking for good. According to Mueller, one of the most helpful tools is the Illinois Tobacco Quit Line, which can be reached at 1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937).
To learn more about the effects of smoking or tips to help quit, visit the American Lung Association website at www.lung.org.