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Iowans Urged to Kick the Habit, at Least for Today

PHOTO: Today (Thursday) marks the 38th annual Great American Smokeout, as folks across the nation are urged to quit for the day and hopefully for good. CREDIT: Erich Ferdinand
PHOTO: Today (Thursday) marks the 38th annual Great American Smokeout, as folks across the nation are urged to quit for the day and hopefully for good. CREDIT: Erich Ferdinand
November 21, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa – Citizens across the state who are smokers are being urged to kick the habit today.

This is the 38th Annual Great American Smokeout.

Chuck Reed, senior consultant for communications strategy integration with American Cancer Society, says the goal is for people to give up smoking for the day, but also make plans on how to quit for good.

"Even the longest journey begins with one step,” he says. “And so if you can quit smoking for one day, the next step for you may be to skip one pack. And that may last you a day, two, three days, whatever, but if you can skip that one pack, that can lead you to quitting or a week and quitting for a lifetime is even better."

Reed notes that smoking rates have declined dramatically since the 1950s, when tobacco was first linked to lung cancer, and the rate of Iowa adults who smoke now is slightly more than 18 percent.

Reed says the progress statewide has been helped along in recent years by higher cigarette taxes and with the passage of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act.

"So we saw rates go down, but we haven't done much recently to back that up,” he says. “And we've seen rates trend a little bit back upwards, so still one in five adults smoking is too high."

Reed adds that smoking-related diseases remain the world's most preventable cause of death.

"Tobacco use is responsible for 28 percent of all cancer deaths,” he stresses. “And cancer right now is the number one cause of death in Iowa, so it's a really important day."

Nationally, about 44 million people still smoke cigarettes. Worldwide, someone dies because of tobacco use every six seconds.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA