Never too late to benefit from giving up smoking

Never too late to benefit from giving up smoking

The Ohio Tobacco Quitline — 1-800-QUIT-NOW — is a free resource available to everyone in Ohio and can assist in quitting any form of tobacco/nicotine.


Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. The dangerous combination of chemicals found in cigarette smoke takes a toll on the human body. Cigarettes contain roughly 600 ingredients, but when burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. Arsenic, found in rat poisoning, and acetone, found in nail polish remover, are just two examples. At least 69 of the chemicals created are known to cause cancer, and 200 others are considered toxic.

Smoking harms almost all organs in the body and can affect a person’s overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is responsible for nearly 1-in-5 deaths each year, and more than 16 million Americans currently live with a smoking-related illness. Smoking can cause at least 12 types of cancer and is responsible for nearly 90% of all lung cancer deaths. Smokers also are at increased risk of having a stroke and developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and coronary heart disease. Oral health problems such as gum disease and vision problems including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration can result from smoking.

What does the picture look like in Holmes County? How does it compare to the U.S. and the state? The Holmes County 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment provides some clues.

Smoking prevalence in Ohio is significantly higher in populations that report living with a disability, having frequent poor mental health, living in an Appalachian residence and/or having an annual income of less than $15,000. There is no doubt all of Holmes County is an Appalachian area. In Holmes County smoking every day is highest among residents with an annual income of less than $25,000. Smoking every day or some days generally declined with greater educational attainment.

The health risks associated with smoking are not for the smoker alone; nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke also face heightened health risks. According to the American Cancer Society, risks for exposed adults include heart attack, stroke, lung cancer and heart disease. Infants and children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections, more severe asthma, and other respiratory symptoms like coughing or wheezing.

Adults with disabilities are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those without disabilities. Adults with disabilities often smoke more as a secondary result of their condition causing stress and mental health challenges. About 1-in-5 (18.5%) U.S. adults who have disabilities smokes cigarettes compared with 10.9% of adults without disabilities. In Ohio approximately 27.2% of people living with a disability report smoking. In Holmes County approximately 8% of the population is living with a disability.

Smoking is much more common among adults with mental health conditions than those without mental health conditions. In fact, in 2020, 23.1% of U.S. adults with any mental health condition reported smoking cigarettes during the past month compared to 14.5% of adults with no mental illness. In Holmes County the CHNA data shows 26% of residents reporting at least one mental health diagnosis. One common coping method for those with mental health issues is smoking or smoking more than usual. Approximately 1-in-4 (25%) adults in the U.S. have some form of mental illness or substance-use disorder, and these adults consume almost 40% of all cigarettes smoked by adults.

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Quitting can add years back to your life and lower the risks of developing many of the adverse effects from smoking. The Ohio Tobacco Quitline is a free resource available to everyone in Ohio and can assist in quitting any form of tobacco/nicotine. Participants receive five scheduled counseling sessions and receive up to eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapy.

As reported by the surgeon general, the combined use of counseling and nicotine replacement therapy can more than double the chances of successfully quitting. The Ohio Tobacco Quitline also has designated programs for tobacco users that are pregnant or have behavioral health concerns. Ready to begin your quit journey? To enroll, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

This article was furnished by Becky Starner, LSW, MSW, personal health services director for the Holmes County General Health District.

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