Thursday is Great American Smokeout

Thursday is Great American Smokeout
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Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, has been designated as the 38th Great American Smokeout by the American Cancer Society as part of lung cancer awareness month. Lung cancer is the leading cause of preventable and premature cancer deaths in the United States and Indiana, killing an estimated 150,000 Americans and approximately 3,800 Hoosiers each year.

Counties in eastern Indiana experienced a higher lung cancer incidence rate than the statewide rate between 2007 and 2011. These counties make up what is referred to as "Public Health District 6" and include: Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Howard, Jay, Madison, Randolph, Tipton, Union, Rush and Wayne counties. During 2011, 484 residents in District 6 died as a result of lung cancer.

Smoking accounts for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, and at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths. If all tobacco smoking were stopped, the occurrence of lung cancer would decrease by an estimated 90 percent; however, according to the Indiana Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, approximately 29.7 percent of adults in District 6 were smokers in 2011 and 2012, placing them at great risk for developing lung and other types of cancer. Quitting smoking and tobacco use significantly reduces the risk of developing cancer and other chronic diseases.

"The positive health effects of quitting smoking begin immediately," said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. "Within 20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse return to normal levels. Within 72 hours, the chance of a heart attack drops and sense of smell and taste begin to return. In three months, lung capacity increases and in one year, risk of heart attack is cut in half. Within five years, the heart disease rate drops to that of a non-smoker."

The Great American Smokeout is a day to commit to being tobacco free. Local community events at worksites, schools, hospitals and other community businesses are also being held by tobacco control coalitions statewide.

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"Hoosiers can also use this day to make a plan to quit smoking or tobacco use, or to encourage a friend or loved one to quit," said Miranda Spitznagle, Director of Tobacco Prevention and Cessation at the State Health Department. "Indiana residents can receive free help in quitting tobacco by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visiting

The Indiana Tobacco Quitline is just one of many efforts Indiana has made to reduce the state's smoking rate. In July of 2012, Indiana enacted its first statewide smoke free air law. The law covers nearly all public places in the state, including restaurants and other workplaces. In addition, there are 19 communities that have passed comprehensive smoke free air laws that cover workplaces, restaurants and bars. See more about Indiana's smoke-free policies.