Interested in kicking your nicotine habit? The Athens City-County Health Department may be able to help. The third Thursday of November marks the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, an event designed to encourage smokers to quit — or to plan to quit — their use of tobacco products that day.
“By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life — one that can lead to reducing cancer risk,” said Kim Knapp-Browne, the agency’s tobacco education and prevention coordinator, in a news release.
What does it take to participate? Simply a personal commitment to quitting, said Knapp-Browne. Those needing a little guidance can go to O’Bleness Memorial Hospital’s Willow View Cafe lobby on Nov. 21 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., where Knapp-Browne will be answering questions and giving away free resources like Quit Kits and stress balls. The Ohio Tobacco Quit Line, 1-800-784-8669, is another resource.
In February, O’Bleness Health System will be offering free classes utilizing the American Cancer Society’s Freshstart smoking cessation program. For more information call (740) 566-4800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Businesses even offer cessation services, and so Knapp-Browne recommends checking with an employer, too.
While statistics in Athens County suggest the rates of smoking traditional tobacco products (cigarettes and chewing tobacco) are going down, the biggest concern now is with electronic cigarettes, Knapp-Browne said.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. Tests have shown some e-cigarettes have toxins such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze, according to Knapp-Browne’s research.
The products are fairly new and are not FDA approved or regulated. While smokers believe e-cigarettes are safer than conventional products, not much is known about their safety or if there is any benefit of using them.
Only recently have there been research published related to e-cigarette use, Knapp-Browne said. There are now 3.5 million e-cigarette users in the U.S., according to research conducted by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program located in California. They’re expected to surpass the consumption of conventional cigarettes by 2023.
Because the products are so new, there is no proof the vapor is safe for the person smoking or for those who breathe the secondhand vapor, according to the release.
According to a study called “Electronic Cigarettes: How Will They Impact Human Health,” stem cells were sensitive to the fluids and vapor, indicating pregnant women should avoid using and exposure to e-cigarette vapors.
There are no federal age restrictions preventing children or teens from buying them, nor are there advertising restrictions. More than 76 percent of high school students are dual users, meaning they use both regular and e-cigarettes.
“Quitting is hard,” Knapp-Browne said, “but you can increase your chances of success with help from several other sources.”