NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living is promoting the Nov. 17 Great American Smokeout, when smokers are encouraged to quit for 24 hours as they begin a “journey toward a healthy, smoke-free life.”
According to TFL, more than 400,000 people die each year in the United States due to smoking-related illnesses, and Louisiana has the highest prevalence of lung cancer in the country. Seven cities in the state ranked amongst the 50 cities in the U.S. with the most smokers. Ranking at 41 is Lake Charles; at 38, Shreveport-Bossier City; at 36, Lafayette; at 35, Alexandria; at 28, Hammond; at 13, Monroe; and at 12, Houma-Thibodaux, according to a study by the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
GASO is a national day observed yearly on the third Thursday of November, and TFL wants to draw attention to the campaign by providing support to those beginning their cessation journey with the help of Quit With Us, Louisiana.
“Any day is a good day to quit smoking, but we celebrate the Great American Smokeout knowing that the citizens of Louisiana can count on our program Quit With Us Louisiana as they begin their cessation journey,” said Earl “Nupsius” Benjamin-Robinson, director of the Tobacco Control & Prevention and Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living. “We want our residents to feel empowered to quit and live a healthy, tobacco-free lifestyle.”
Quit With Us, Louisiana enrolls smokers in customized quitting plans through QuitCoach. The program, which can be accessed via QuitWithUsLA.org or texting “READY” to 200-400, is open free of charge to residents of Louisiana 13 years and older. Quit With Us, Louisiana’s support methods include text, online, and telephone assistance, allowing enrollees to choose the most convenient support method.
The Great American Smokeout is observed to raise awareness about the devastating effects of tobacco products and to provoke conversations that lead to legislative actions. Throughout the years, state and municipal regulations have been implemented across the nation, and according to the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoking has decreased from 42% to 16% since 1965 as result of those policies, media campaigns, and the increases in the prices of tobacco products.
TFL runs other initiatives to prevent tobacco use, eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, and promote the benefits of smoke-free work environments. Healthier Air for All highlights the benefits of smoke-free environments in local businesses and community organizations. In efforts to reach younger generations of tobacco users, TFL also offers the Next Era program, which empowers the youth to live nicotine and tobacco-free lifestyles.