By Chris Newbrough
Did you know each year in Missouri alone, smoking has been linked to over 10,000 deaths? And, 1,150 deaths have been attributed to secondhand smoke exposure. The Audrain County Health Department (ACHD) would like to see those numbers eradicated someday and through a partnership with the American Cancer Society, hope to make an impact.
Starting in November of this year, the ACHD will offer five sets of classes in the next year to help you quit smoking by providing the “American Cancer Society’s Fresh Start Smoking Cessation” program. Each four-week session will be taught by trained smoking cessation facilitators. The first four-week session will start on Thursday, November 19 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and will be held at the ACHD on south Elmwood Drive in Mexico. It will not meet the Thursday of Thanksgiving and will resume on December 3. The class will wrap up on December 17.
“November 19 is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke-Out Day, and we thought it would be the perfect day to kick-off this program,” ACHD Administrator Sandra Hewlett commented. “Smoking rates in Audrain County (31.3%) are higher than the State and U.S. (21.7%) rates. In fact, the Healthy People 2020 national initiative goal is 12%”.
At ACHD, we want to start helping those who want to quit smoking and lower the smoking rate in Audrain County. Hewlett points out the benefits of quitting smoking are immense.
“Twenty minutes after you quit, your heart rate and blood pressure drop,” she says. “Twelve hours after, your carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal. Two to three weeks after, your circulation improves and your lungs function better. The benefits keep going from there.”
She says the ACHD is firmly committed to fighting chronic disease caused by modifiable lifestyle choices.
“Besides the health benefits, there are economic and social benefits as well,” Hewlett says. “Quitting smoking will save the average person approximately $2,000 per year. Also, a person’s healthcare costs will decrease. Each year, Missouri spends about $2 billion, with half of that spent on treating smoking-related illnesses”. Socially, Hewlett says, you will be role-modeling healthy lifestyle behaviors for the younger generations in your family. “Just think of what you will be doing for them,” she says. “You’ll be demonstrating that addictions can be mastered and how quitting dramatically improves your health. It will provide those around you with reasons not to smoke. If they don’t, they won’t have to worry about increasing their risks for lung cancer, oral cancer, lung and heart disease, and other illnesses. What a wonderful gift to give your family this holiday season.”
The cost of the course is $25 per participant. For more information or to register, you can contact Hewlett at the ACHD at 573-581-1332 or you can visit www.audraincountyhealth.org to review available class dates.