Archived Story

No butts about it: Health entities: smoking continues to kill

Published 5:17pm Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Smokers, don’t light that first cigarette — or any cigarettes — today. Better yet, don’t ever smoke again.

Today is the Great American SmokeOut 2013, a day set aside by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to give up tobacco, at least for one day, and to think about quitting for good.

JaNell Lewis, a health educator with the Beaufort County Health Department, said getting people to quit smoking and working to prevent smoking-related deaths is a high priority for the department.

“It’s right up there. It also goes hand in hand with that new ordinance — that was just passed in the county — and smoking policy that bans smoking within 50 feet of a county building,” Lewis said.

She referred to a county ordinance enacted this past summer that banned tobacco use in county buildings and county vehicles and within 50 feet of all entrances to county buildings. Afterward, the county commissioners modified the ordinance to allow the use of e-cigarettes in county vehicles and within 50 feet of entrances to county buildings, but not inside those buildings.

About 30 percent of cancer deaths in Beaufort County are caused by the five leading behavioral and dietary risks — tobacco use, alcohol use, obesity, low intake of fruits and vegetables and lack of physical activity, according to the 2013 State of the County Health report.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

The health department has the following two strategies in place to address tobacco use:

• At least annually the Board of Health will receive the most up-to-date information on health effects of tobacco use to enable it to discuss health issues related to tobacco use as well as cancer-prevention strategies such as tobacco-free work environments, cancer-screening events and cancer-prevention activities in Beaufort County.

• At least annually provide information to the community promoting tobacco cessation.

“There was a time when most Americans did not know, or chose not to believe, that cigarette smoking caused disease and early death. January 11th will be the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health,” Lewis wrote in a press release. “In 1964, nearly half of American adults smoked, and there had been very little public education around the dangers of smoking. Many Americans put their cigarettes down as a result of the report, which showed a direct link between smoking and lung cancer and a likely contribution of smoking to heart disease.”

Lewis noted there are numerous resources to help people stop smoking or using tobacco in other ways.

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-785-8669) any day, any time, and get free, effective telephone or online help to quit for good. One out of five North Carolina adults still smoke cigarettes. If you’re one of those five, it’s never too late to quit, Lewis wrote.

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