Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Great American Smokeout could be a first step toward that final puff, better health for smokers and those around them, and money saved.
People who smoke a pack daily at the average price of $6.16 could save $2,248.40 annually.
According to the American Lung Association, more people die from lung cancer yearly than any other type of cancer, exceeding the total deaths caused by breast, colorectal and prostate cancers combined.
Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute tells us that smoking is also a major risk factor for heart disease. Studies show that private and public health expenditures for smoking in this country cost $170 billion.
Further data show restaurant and bar workers where smoking is allowed are exposed to 7,000 chemicals, including tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine, the drug in cigarettes that hooks you and keeps you addicted. Working at these establishments is equivalent to smoking up to 36 cigarettes over an eight-hour shift.
The American Heart Association reports that every year, roughly 42,000 people die in this country from preventable diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Chemicals from secondhand smoke can cause heart disease, lung cancer and other serious illnesses among non-smokers.
The Centers for Disease Control warns there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and is hardest on young children, the elderly and people fighting illnesses.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids warns that the serious symptoms of addiction — having strong urges to smoke, feeling anxious or irritable or having unsuccessfully tried to not smoke — can appear among youths within weeks or only days after occasional smoking first begins. An article in Austin Family notes that nationally, Texas ranks 21st in percent of teens who smoke, at 17.4 percent.
Texas has 86 cities with comprehensive smoke-free ordinances compared to Williamson County, which has zero. The CDC considers a smoke-free law to be comprehensive if it prohibits smoking in all indoor areas of workplaces, restaurants and bars, with no exceptions.
The Health District reports that for 2014 in Round Rock, 15 percent of adults smoked. But smoking can be one of the toughest habits to break.
Let’s encourage our smoking relatives and friends to sign up for smoke cessation programs like the Texas Tobacco Quitline that offers free and confidential counseling services, support and information from trained professionals. Research shows these supportive programs can double a person’s chances of successfully quitting smoking and extending their lifespans. For more information, visit yesquit.org/resources or call 1-877-YES-QUIT.
The Health District is partnered with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which sponsors the Texas Tobacco Quitline. Call and ask the Health District to refer you to the Quitline and receive two free weeks of nicotine replacement therapy like gum, lozenges and patches. Find their locations at www.wcchd.org and ask for smoking cessation services.
Additionally, the Health District and the Wilco Wellness Alliance, Williamson County’s health and wellness coalition, are considering creating a Smoke Free Williamson County working group to raise awareness, provide cessation opportunities and reduce tobacco use in the county.
The Health District also supports Smoke Free Round Rock, a local group working in partnership with Smoke Free Texas, a broad coalition of organizations and individuals striving to give all Texas residents the right to breathe clean indoor air.
Led by the American Heart Association, Smoke Free Round Rock is encouraging city leaders to make Round Rock the first Williamson County city to adopt a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. For more information on Smoke Free Round Rock, visit fb.com/smokefreeRR or text 46893 to let the Round Rock City Council know you support a Step Outside Ordinance that protects indoor air.
Please join us in cleaning the air for everyone. Remind your loved ones to make Thursday a day to start a tobacco-free life.