Nationwide¬† –¬† ¬†Thursday is the Great American Smokeout, an event challenging people to make plans to quit smoking.

There are more than 36 million smokers nationwide, and health experts are reminding people that tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and death in the world.

Jennifer McClure, director of research, faculty and development at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, recognizes that quitting is very hard. She says there are two methods that help immensely.

“The most effective treatments are a combination of behavioral counseling and stop-smoking medications, and the use of both of those two things combined will double your chances that you’re able to quit smoking and remain quit,” she states.

McClure says counseling and medication come in many varieties and are available to almost everyone because of the Affordable Care Act.

She encourages people to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to find out more about these resources.

McClure and her team recently developed a phone app that helps people manage during withdrawals.

The app offers self-help advice and advice tailored for individuals. It also has secure messaging built in so that people can speak with a smoking-cessation counselor directly.

While McClure says there are methods that work, there also are some that don’t.

“The biggest misperception that we see is people thinking that it’s just a matter of will power, and if I just want it bad enough, I can just do it if I put my mind to it,” she explains.

McClure says it’s still not clear whether e-cigarettes or vape pens are harmful to a person’s health but doesn’t recommend them.

November also is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.

Smoking kills nearly 500,000 Americans each year.

 

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service

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