Free kits to encourage people to quit smoking will be available Thursday during the Great American Smokeout.

The program began in 1970 and has grown to a national event to encourage people who use tobacco products to quit or to make a plan to quit.

The cigarette smoking rate for pregnant women in Clatsop County (18 percent) is twice as high as the national average and 60 percent higher than the rest of Oregon.

Medical costs associated with tobacco use in Clatsop County are estimated at $15 million annually. Cigarette smoking among adults in Clatsop County (22 percent), is higher than the rest of Oregon, (19 percent).

Tobacco use remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. The health benefits of quitting start immediately. Statistics show the chance of heart attack decreases, blood flow improves and the risk of cancer decreases.

Quit kits, containing quit tips, a straw, paper clip, hard candy and more, will be dispersed at various locations in Clatsop County, including some coffee shops, The Harbor, Columbia Memorial Hospital and Providence Seaside Hospital. The idea is to use the items in the quit kit instead of tobacco.

For information regarding program or tobacco cessation services, contact Alissa Dorman, Tobacco Cessation Coordinator, at 503-325-4321, ext. 5758, or alissa_dorman@columbiamemorial.org

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