Thursday is the Great American Smoke Out. And the Tobacco Free Coalition of Clatsop County encourages all smokers to quit for the day.

Even though smoking rates have dropped, tobacco continues to be a killer. Twenty-five percent of the deaths in Clatsop County are directly related to tobacco use, health officials say.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death among American men and women. Tobacco use accounts for 87 percent of lung cancers.

Smoking causes many cancers besides lung cancer. It is a major cause of cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, bladder, pancreas and cervix, and is linked to many other cancers.

Tobacco dependence is comparable in severity to dependence to opiates, amphetamines and cocaine.

Smokers who quit by age 35 can avoid 90 percent of the risk from tobacco including lower blood pressure, decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, emphysema and tobacco-related cancers.

Seventy percent of smokers want to quit. Quit tobacco for one day, Thursday, then quit tobacco for life.

For assistance, contact the Tobacco Free Coalition of Clatsop County Quitline at 1-877-270-7867; Alice Beck at Clatsop County Health and Human Services, 338-3600 ext. 2600; Marilyn Schreiner at Columbia Memorial Hospital, 325-4321 ext. 6564; or a local health care provider.

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