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Wills: World No Tobacco Day – Encouraging Louisiana smokers to quit

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is an annual program of the World Health Organization (WHO), highlighting the risks associated with tobacco use and advocates for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The focus of WNTD 2020 is “Protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use,” which is designed to increase awareness about the negative impact tobacco is having on young people’s health.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., imposing a terrible toll in health, lives and dollars on families, businesses, and government. Tobacco kills 480,000 people annually – more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. As we face a global pandemic, it’s especially important for smokers to take care of their health, so that they can avoid the substantially higher risk of COVID-19 progression.

“Throughout this pandemic, it’s the most vulnerable that have been severely impacted and have even died. Those less likely to survive coronavirus include the frail elderly and individuals with chronic diseases and compromised immune systems,” said Orleans Parish Medical Society President Juan J. Gershanik, MD. “We also know that smokers and vapers are more vulnerable to viruses, like COVID-19, that attack the lungs.”

“While observances like WNTD are helpful in spreading our cessation messaging, we know that we still have a long way to go in convincing all smokers, young and older, to quit,” said Mike Rogers, CEO of the Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services (SCTMS). “We continue to face cessation battles on several fronts, including Big Tobacco spending millions of dollars trying to convince older smokers that “switching” is somehow a healthier option than quitting; a state legislature that seems reluctant to raise the age of purchasing tobacco products to 21; and now, a global pandemic that is proving a threat to former and current smokers.”

According to WHO, smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19, as they may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity, greatly increasing risk of serious illness. So, in recognition of WNTD, and in light of the current pandemic, the SCTMS is strongly urging Louisiana smokers, many of them young people lured into vaping, to take this opportunity to eliminate tobacco from their lives.

To date, the Trust has registered more than 110,000 eligible Louisiana citizens who are now on the path to quitting their nicotine addiction.

For more information, to apply for the free products and services provided by the Louisiana Smoking Cessation Trust or to find a cessation provider, visit www.smokefreela.org, call 504-529-5665 or 855-259-6346.