No better day to give up smoking

Today, the third Thursday of November, annually is the Great American Smokeout, when those who smoke are encouraged either to use the day to quit or at least make a plan toward breaking the habit.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in Michigan, killing more than 16,000 residents each year. Yet many Michiganders still use tobacco — 20.4 percent of Michigan adults, compared with U.S. national data of 15.1 percent. Perhaps worse, 10.5 percent of Michigan’s youth smoke cigarettes daily. Each year, 4,400 Michigan children become new, daily smokers.

Smokers, on average, die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers and in Michigan cost $4.6 billion annually in health care costs, with $1.4 billion in Medicaid costs.

More than half of these tobacco users have tried to quit for at least one day during the past year, according to the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department, adding the highly addictive nature of tobacco products means most users will make several attempts to quit before they are successful.

So, how to make that attempt have a better chance of lasting? Enter DIDHD and the Great American Smokeout.

Research shows that while quitting is difficult for most tobacco users, quitters are most successful when using a combination of therapies, including resources such as nicotine replacement, counseling, self-help materials and a strong support network of family and friends.

Resources available to Michigan residents include:

— The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, continues to provide free telephone coaching for the uninsured and those with Medicaid and Medicare, and free nicotine replacement medications for those who qualify. Information on quitting smoking and a free printable Michigan Smoker’s Quit Kit are available through MDHHS by going to www.michigan.gov/tobacco.

BecomeAnEX.org is a free, interactive website that shows smokers how to re-learn life without cigarettes. The site, developed by Truth Initiative in partnership with Mayo Clinic, offers a free, personalized quit plan and an online support community to help people prepare to quit and stay quit.

— The American Cancer Society has tools available to help with quitting. For more information, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. Information also is available on the American Cancer Society’s Web site at www.cancer.org.

— The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center and the U.S. Veterans Administration also have resources available to assist in ending the smoking habit. Go to https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/quit-tobacco/why-quit.asp. Or stop by the booth in OGJVAMC’s outpatient waiting area or contact Dr. Brenda Reed, OGJVAMC’s Tobacco Cessation Program coordinator, at 800-215-8262, ext. 32774.

Give it a try. If you’ve tried before, give it another go. The only harm is in not making the attempt.

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