Contact: Thomas Hottman
May 31st is the World Health Organization "No Tobacco Day." It is an international day promoted to raise awareness of the harms of tobacco and to encourage people to be healthier by stopping their tobacco and nicotine habit.
Klamath County has one of the highest rates of tobacco use in the state, but the truth is that MOST adolescents and adults in our county do NOT smoke (for good reason). So what can the nonsmokers do on World No Tobacco Day to promote health in our community? We all have people in our lives who we care about that smoke tobacco, e-cigarettes or use tobacco chew. They are our friends, coworkers, neighbors, people from church or those we know from social organizations who are hooked on the powerful, deadly nicotine addiction.
Those of us who are nonsmokers hate to see people hurting themselves with a deadly habit. Tobacco is the leading cause of premature death in our country and it is the ONLY legal product on the market that will seriously harm or kill the person who uses it as it was intended to be used.
Let us collectively take efforts to help our community against this scourge.
Here is a list of a few things nonsmokers can do this "World No Tobacco Day" and every day to improve the health of those around us who are smokers, help clean the air, and to reduce the number of adolescents and young adults that start smoking:
- Encourage your friend/neighbor/colleague/associate who smokes to sign up for a smoking cessation class. These are offered by Sky Lakes Medical Center (contact Jennifer at 541-274-7250), and Cascades Health Alliance (contact Kerri at 541-851-2019). Learn more about the Freedom From Smoking classes. Klamath Tribal Health also promotes smoking cessation programs (contact them at 541-882-1487). The local Veterans Administration clinic has tobacco cessation support with medications and classes conducted by videoconferencing. There is help available for smokers who will decide to quit!
- Speak to your employer about becoming a "smoke-free" employment site with no smoking allowed on the property (including the parking lots and any outdoor space on the property). That will reduce the harm to your coworkers who smoke and it will be good for everyone's health to have no second-hand smoke in the environment.
- If you are a teacher or otherwise work with children through Scouting activities, church, 4H, or other youth activities, bring the topic of the dangers of cigarette smoking into your curriculum. The majority of smokers used their first cigarette before the age of 18 years. Reaching out to our local youth about the dangers of cigarettes is especially important.
- Ask the manager of your local grocery store or pharmacy to stop selling tobacco products. If enough of the public does this, we can have an impact.
- Tell smokers you know that you care about their well-being and hope they will consider stopping. You can inform them about the Oregon Quit Line which is a free telephone and web-based tobacco cessation counseling service to help Oregonians. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or for Spanish language it is 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1-855-335356-92)
As a physician, I have seen countless lives damaged and countless deaths due to tobacco. I think it is especially tragic when babies have been affected by nicotine in-utero (mothers who have been pregnant smokers or pregnant mothers exposed to second-hand smoke) and when young children suffer respiratory problems from living in an environment with second-hand smoke. I want our community to be healthy. I hope others in Klamath will join me in taking efforts to reduce the toll of tobacco on World No Tobacco Day and every day of the year.
Beverly Bauman M.D.