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Great American Smokeout inspires many to quit smoking PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Thursday, Nov. 18, millions of people took the first step to quit smoking for the Great American Smokeout—a national day dedicated to quitting tobacco.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is focusing its efforts on specific populations who carry the greatest burden of tobacco use—youth under the age of 18, pregnant women and Medicaid enrollees. Through public education and support of policies to eliminate illegal tobacco sales to youth, the department aims to further reduce smoking prevalence in Colorado.

Two current media campaigns running in Colorado promote Colorado QuitLine’s proven quit-smoking intervention. One campaign focuses on Medicaid enrollees and the two free or low-cost, 90-day quit-smoking medication benefits available to them each year. The other promotes QuitLine’s program specially designed for pregnant women who smoke.

“Our role in public health is to give people the best information and resources to quit smoking for good and to cut off the tobacco industry’s pipeline of new customers, especially the most vulnerable,” said Jason Vahling, director of the Healthy Living Branch at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

More than three decades after the first Great American Smokeout rallied people to quit smoking, tobacco addiction still grips millions of Americans, and tobacco industry marketing continues to lure new customers.

Research shows youth are more vulnerable to tobacco industry marketing than adults, and they have easy access to tobacco products. More than 80 percent of smokers start before the legal age of 18, addicting approximately 5,700 people who smoke daily in Colorado each year.

Socially and economically disadvantaged groups also are vulnerable. According to Colorado studies, these groups are three times more likely to smoke cigarettes than others and have higher exposure to secondhand smoke.

The cigarette smoking rate for Colorado’s Medicaid recipients is about 38 percent—more than double Colorado’s overall adult smoking rate of 17 percent.

Pregnant women in Colorado who receive Medicaid have a cigarette smoking rate that is more than three times as high as non-Medicaid pregnant women. Pregnant women who smoke are at high risk and often deliver babies prematurely or at a low birth weight, potentially causing ongoing health problems.

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease and a major driver of health care costs. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the American Cancer Society and organizations across the state urge people to fight tobacco industry marketing and provide social support to smokers who are ready to take the first step to quit.

To find free online quit-smoking resources and quit tips, go to www.MyQuitPath.org. The Colorado QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) is a free telephone-based coaching program available to Colorado residents 15 years and older who are ready to quit smoking.