Thursday, Nov. 20, is the Great American Smoke Out, and United Community Health Center in Storm Lake is providing free resources to help smokers "Walk-in to Quit."
Staff at the facility say the event is being planned in hopes that locals who use tobacco will make a plan and set the Great American Smoke Out this year as their quit date. UCHC is offering walk-in appointments between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. for new Tobacco Cessation patients including an "I Wanna Quit Kit."
Tobacco users will be able to speak with a healthcare professional and receive free counseling and cessation medications if needed. The tobacco cessation program at UCHC is funded by an Iowa Public Health Grant.
To participate in the Tobacco Cessation Program on November 20 - anyone wanting to quit tobacco use, including smoking, chewing or pipe tobacco, should "Walk-in to Quit" at UCHC - located at 630 Ontario Street, Storm Lake - between the hours of 4-8 p.m. Appointments will be available on a first come, first serve basis with Linda McClintock, ARNP.
While the Tobacco Cessation Program at United Community Health Center is available daily, during other clinic hours, on Thursday, November 20 new patients will not need an appointment during the four hours and the first 20 new participants will receive the "I Wanna Quit Kit" - a goodie bag with things like chewing gum, a new toothbrush, and a $5 gas card in recognition of this years' Great American Smoke Out.
The Great American Smoke Out was inaugurated in 1976 by the American Cancer Society to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for one day with the hope that they may quit for good. Now, 44.2 percent of the 45.3 million Americans who smoke have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year, and the Great American Smoke Out remains an opportunity to encourage people to commit to making a long-term plan to quit for good.
Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Each year, smoking accounts for an estimated 438,000 premature deaths, including 38,000 deaths among nonsmokers as a result of secondhand smoke. Half of all Americans who continue to smoke will die from smoking-related diseases.
Also imperative in this effort to encourage people to quit smoking are smoke-free laws and higher tobacco taxes which make it harder for people to smoke, and protect nonsmokers from tobacco smoke. The majority of U.S. communities are now covered by smoke-free laws, while forty-three states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have raised tobacco taxes since 2000. Smokers nationwide now face an average cost of $4.32 for one pack of cigarettes, not including all taxes. The rising cost of living is also affecting smokers, as the cost of cigarettes presents an even greater burden. Smoke-free workplace laws and other tobacco control legislation help protect Americans from secondhand smoke and encourage smokers to quit.
United Community Health Center is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through education, advocacy and service. It is the mission of the United Community Health Center to provide comprehensive primary care services to anyone, including those with health insurance and the uninsured, underinsured and underserved.