Letter to the Editor

There's never been a better time to quit smoking

Friday, November 16, 2007

To the Editor:

Kudos to Tammy Duzan for raising awareness about lung cancer, per her recently published letter to the editor. She put a face to this terrible disease in sharing about her mother's recent lung cancer diagnosis.

Lung cancer, in addition to being the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, is one of the most difficult to cure. It may also be the most tragic cancer because in most cases, it might have been prevented. Eighty-seven percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 different chemicals, of which 60 are proven carcinogens. The more a person smokes, the greater his or her risk of lung cancer. By stopping smoking, the risk of lung cancer decreases significantly each year as normal cells replace abnormal cells. In addition, quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of developing other smoking-related diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking cigars or pipes also increases the risk of lung cancer.

Secondhand smoke, via cigarettes, pipes and cigars, is another important cause of lung cancer. It is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Sitting in the non-smoking section of a restaurant for two hours is the equivalent to smoking one and three-fourths cigarettes. Riding in a car for one hour with the windows closed while someone is smoking or sitting next to a smoker in a smoky bar for two hours is equivalent to smoking four cigarettes. Sitting behind a smoker in an open-air stadium for three hours is like smoking one cigarette.

If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is quit. Set a "quit date." Nov. 15 is American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout," and a good day to quit. Enroll in a smoking cessation class. Local classes, provided by Greene County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (GCTPC), will be offered again in January 2008. Class information will be publicized in this newspaper in December.

Individual cessation counseling is also available through GCTPC.

If you are a nonsmoker, set personal boundaries for your smoking friends and family members. Make your home and car smoke-free. Thank the smoke-free restaurants you patronize. Ask the restaurants you patronize that allow smoking to adopt a smoke free (clean air) policy. Speak to your local legislators about adopting a clean air policy for your community.

If you are a business, develop a wellness plan, including establishment of a smoke free worksite. Free cessation classes can also be provided at your worksite through GCTPC.

For information on cessation classes, early enrollment for the January classes, or policy development and implementation, contact the Greene County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation office, 31 W. Main Street, Bloomfield (812-384-8769).

There's never been a better time to quit!

Nancy Cummings

Greene County Tobacco

Prevention and Cessation Partnership Coordinator