The Capital Area Human Services District (CAHSD) tobacco cessation program is offering help to smokers who want to quit. The free program uses trained facilitators in the American Lung Association's "Freedom from Smoking" program to provide group classes in convenient locations. Nicotine replacement patches are provided to participants at no charge.

Another free resource available is telephone counseling for all Louisiana residents age 13 and older who are ready to quit within the next 30 days is the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Research shows that counseling and the use of nicotine replacement therapy is the most effective method to quit smoking. There are locations for tobacco cessation programs in each parish served by CAHSD that are open to the general public at no charge (see the attached locations and phone numbers in each community).

CAHSD supports the national campaign to reduce tobacco use in order to promote healthy living and reduce mortality attributed to smoking. It is urgent to get the message out to the community that quitting smoking is the single most important step smokers can take to improve their length and quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death, killing 443,000 Americans and 6,500 Louisianans each year. About 1 out of every 4 adults and 1 out of every 5 high school students smoke cigarettes in Louisiana. It costs the American public almost $200 billion every year in healthcare costs and lost productivity and wages. In Louisiana, the economic cost due to smoking is estimated to be $3,512,013,000.

CAHSD Executive Director Jan Kasofsky stated, "We must do everything we can to prevent tobacco use among our youth and provide help for smokers to quit. The economic cost and premature disease and death from cigarette smoking puts added strain on our families and systems of care."

Some Fast Facts about Smoking

Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths. It is also a cause of coronary heart disease, stroke and a host of other cancers and diseases.

Children who live with smokers get more chest colds and ear infections while babies born to mothers who smoke have an increased risk of premature delivery, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Among adults who have ever smoked, 70 percent started smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 86percent at age 21 or younger.U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin released "Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults" in March of 2012. The report found that the failure of states to invest in policies and programs to reduce tobacco use has resulted in 3 million new youth and young adult smokers, at least a third of whom will ultimately die from their addiction. The report also con­cluded that if states begin to invest in comprehensive programs today, youth tobacco use can be cut in half in just six years. For the complete report, go to: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/index.html

The American Lung Association released the 2013 "State of Tobacco Control" report which tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from tobacco-caused disease. Louisiana received a Grade of F in the area of Prevention Control and Spending, Cigarette Tax and Smoking Cessation Services Coverage, and received a Grade of B for Smokefree Air laws. Louisiana's funding for Tobacco Control programs was 17.3 percent of the CDC recommended level. For the complete report, go to: http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/