Local lifestyle columnists

Having a smoke free summer

By From page D4 | June 01, 2014

Saturday was World No-Tobacco Day 2014, a day intended to highlight the risks associated with tobacco use and the need for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

In support of this day, the World Health Organization and partners around the globe are engaging in efforts to raise awareness and to advocate for policies such as increased taxes on tobacco.

Despite campaigns like World No Tobacco Day and the tremendous strides the United States has made in recognizing the harmful effects of tobacco, tobacco use still remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, smoking cigarettes and exposure to secondhand smoke result in one in five deaths in the U.S. each year – roughly 480,000 people.

Smoking tobacco not only leads to increased risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, but it also increases the risk of death from all causes for both men and women, according to the CDC. Smoking tobacco can also negatively impact pregnancy and birth outcomes, oral health, vision and bone health, and can increase the risk of developing diabetes and many types of cancer.

Not only is smoking bad for your health, but it is also bad for your wallet, with smoking-related diseases resulting in roughly $96 billion in health care costs each year, according to the CDC

Though only 13.8 percent of adults in California are estimated to be smokers, a recent presentation to the Board of Supervisors by the Solano County Health Promotion and Community Wellness Bureau stated that more than 21 percent of adults in Solano County are smokers, and more than 10 percent of ninth- through 12th-graders smoke. According to the Solano County Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, tobacco use results in the death of more than 780 Solano County residents each year.

While all of this may seem like bad news, the good news is that quitting smoking and the use of other tobacco products will have tremendously positive impact on your health. According to the CDC, after one year of cessation, your risk of developing heart disease will drop dramatically. After two to five years of being smoke free, your risk of stroke could return to the same level as a nonsmoker. And within five years, your risk of developing cancer in the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder will drop by half.

Thankfully, in Solano County there are many resources available to help those who are interested in quitting the use of tobacco products. The Solano County Tobacco Prevention and Education Program can provide you with information on resources in your area, including in-person and online classes.

Visit www.tobaccofreesolano.org for more information. In addition, you can visit your local community health center to find out what health education and tobacco cessation services they offer.

So, in honor of this year’s World No Tobacco Day, consider the ways in which you can improve your health and the health of your community by reducing your exposure to tobacco this summer.

Whether you want to quit smoking, encourage a family member to do so, or advocate for different policies in your community, there are a lot of ways to improve your health by reducing your exposure to tobacco and having a smoke free summer.

Morgan Westfall is a Project Coordinator at the Community Clinic Consortium, which is a member of Solano Coalition for Better Health. 

Morgan Westfall


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