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Lung Association: Great Time to Be a Quitter in VA

June 29, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. - President Barack Obama, arguably the most powerful man in the world, is still struggling to quit smoking. Days after signing into law the most restrictive regulations on tobacco in U.S. history, the President admitted he still smokes an occasional cigarette. He said he began smoking as a teen, and he has tried for years to quit entirely.

Ginny Smith, director of mission services for the American Lung Association of the Atlantic Coast, says that many smokers quit smoking four or five times before they finally kick the habit for good. Smith says one successful tactic is to focus on both the long-term and immediate benefits of being smoke-free.

"In just 20 minutes your blood pressure begins to go down; 24 hours later your chance of a heart attack decreases; two days later your senses of taste and smell return."

Smith adds that the benefits of quitting continue the longer a person stays smoke-free.

"At three days you're beginning to have an increased level of energy, and by two weeks, your walking starts to get easier. Three months later, you start to cough and wheeze less. By one year, your heart attack risk is cut in half."

Smith adds that support is just a phone call away in Virginia. The Lung Association runs a toll-free hotline, 1-800-LUNG-USA, staffed by registered nurses and respiratory therapists. The organization also has an eight-week program designed to help people stay smoke-free for good.

Smith says the new regulations will help keep teens away from cigarettes. More than 90 percent of current smokers began as teenagers.

More information is available at www.lungUSA.org.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA