OKLAHOMA CITY – Approximately 7,500 Oklahomans die each year from tobacco-related causes, with more than 700 caused by exposure to secondhand smoke alone.
In an ongoing effort to continue to bring that number down, on the third Thursday in November, the American Cancer Society highlights strategies that increase the likelihood of a successful tobacco cessation journey, such as a good plan and support systems as part of its Great American Smokeout campaign.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 32.4 million American adults still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. And more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.
“We stand in support of smokers who would like to quit and bring awareness to the importance of planning for a quit journey,” said Chantel J. Hartman, Cessation Systems Coordinator for OSDH. “Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions an individual can take to improve their health.”
Individuals who continue to smoke have a greater risk for respiratory infections, such as colds and flu, and those with heart or lung disease caused by smoking may be at higher risk of having severe illness from COVID-19. Research has also shown that children of smokers may be more likely to smoke as teens and more likely to develop respiratory illnesses and conditions.
For younger tobacco users in Oklahoma, including those who use e-cigarette and vapor products, the My Life, My Quit program is available. My Life, My Quit is an evidenced-based cessation program that offers free live text support, web chat, and phone coaching for teens 13-17 years old. The free program also includes educational materials created with youth input. For more information about the My Life, My Quit youth cessation program, text "Start My Quit" to 855-891-9989 or visit ok.mylifemyquit.org.
Health care providers are encouraged to discuss counseling and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication options with patients, as the incorporation of these strategies doubles or even triples chances of quitting successfully. OSDH is also available to assist health care systems and providers create and implement a Helpline referral system.
While the rates of cigarette smoking have declined over the past several decades, from 42% in 1965 to 13.7% in 2019, the gains have been inconsistent. Some groups smoke more heavily or at higher rates and suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases. These populations tend to be those who experience inequities in multiple areas of their lives, including those at lower socioeconomic levels, those without college degrees, American Indians/Alaska natives, African American/Black communities, LGBTQ communities, those in the military, those with behavioral health conditions, and others.
Free resources, such as the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, are available to Oklahomans considering quitting smoking or supporting someone who plans to quit. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline provides free text and email support, phone and web coaching, free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges and more for registered participants. Call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or register online at okhelpline.com.
For more information at Great American Smokeout, please visit the American Cancer Society’s website or contact OSDH’s Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at .