November 15th marks the 37th Annual Great American Smokeout — a day when everyone is encouraged to lead tobacco-free lives to prevent tobacco-related diseases, and improve overall health and quality of life. Numerous surgeon general reports have demonstrated that the best way to prevent tobacco-related disease is to never start using tobacco in the first place and North Dakota’s tobacco prevention efforts are dedicated to accomplishing this task.
Smoking and secondhand smoke are known causes of cancer, COPD, stroke, heart disease, heart attacks and other serious health issues. Every year, tobacco use kills over 800 North Dakotans and costs $247 million. That’s why Fargo Cass Public Health and the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy (the Center) are focusing on proven tobacco prevention strategies, including smoke-free public places and tobacco-free schools.
According to Holly Scott, tobacco prevention educator at Fargo Cass Public Health, “The Great American Smokeout is a great opportunity to focus on prevention because we’re serious about protecting the health of North Dakotans. Tobacco addiction almost always begins by the time kids graduate from high school and makes them users for life.”
Studies have shown that smoke- and tobacco-free policies have immediate health benefits for smokers and non-smokers alike. A recent study by the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences demonstrates a 30.6 percent decline in heart attacks in Grand Forks within four months of the city’s comprehensive smoke-free law taking effect.
“Smoke-free and tobacco-free policies are beneficial because they create a tobacco-free culture that prevents young people from ever starting to use tobacco,” said Jeanne Prom, executive director for the Center. “When we prevent people from starting to use tobacco, we save lives and reduce the taxpayer burden for treating tobacco-related diseases.”
Smoke-free policies are also proven to reduce the number of cigarettes tobacco users smoke and can help to encourage users to stop using tobacco.
To learn more about tobacco prevention contact Fargo Cass Public Health at 241-1360, or visit www.breathend.com.