The Great American Smokeout challenges tobacco users to give up their habit for 24 hours Nov. 21

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The Upshur County Commission declares Nov. 21 the Great American Smokeout, which challenges tobacco users to give up their habit for at least 24 hours.

BUCKHANNON – Nearly 40 percent of all U.S. children are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network Lori Ulderich Harvey and representatives from the Upshur County Tobacco Prevention Coalition attended Thursday’s Upshur County Commission meeting to present the proclamation for the Great American Smokeout.

“Secondhand smoke contains 70 cancer-causing chemicals, and studies suggest a link between secondhand smoke and leukemia, lymphoma, liver cancer and brain tumors in children,” Harvey said. “Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to get colds, allergies and ear infections and it can make asthma much worse.”

The American Cancer Society has sponsored the Great American Smokeout for the third Thursday of November, which is Nov. 21 to challenge smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours.

“In our state, a pack of cigarettes costs approximately $5.77, so if you multiply that by one pack a day, the monthly cost is $173,” Harvey said. “Take that to a yearly cost and it’s $2,077. If you quit, you can take your family on an all-week-long vacation or afford a monthly utility payment. Even if you only quit for four months, you could purchase a laptop or tablet and internet service.”

Harvey said in 2017, 26 percent of adults smoked in West Virginia and nationally that rate was 17 percent. Also, in 2017, 14.4 percent of high school students in West Virginia smoked cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days.

“Vaping, which is the use of any e-cigarette is becoming an epidemic in our area,” Harvey said. “In general, in high school and middle school, we’ve experienced a stunning 900 percent increase in e-cigarette use between 2011 and 2015. In 2018, 3.6 million young people in the U.S. used e-cigarette products which represents one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students in the country.”

Representative with the Upshur County Tobacco Prevention Coalition Tim Higgins said vaping is already an epidemic.

“It’s not becoming an epidemic, it is an epidemic,” Higgins said. “As of Nov. 5, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reported 2,051 cases of lung illness, and it’s due to vaping products and 39 deaths in 24 states and the District of Columbia and that gets updated quite frequently.”

He also said the number of Americans that die every year due to smoking has gone up from 430,000 to 480,316.

The proclamation states the Upshur County Commission “recognizes and supports the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smoke out on Nov. 21 in Upshur County and encourages all citizens who smoke, use dip or chew tobacco, vape or any other devices to ingest nicotine, to demonstrate to themselves and to their children that they can quit by joining the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.”

Read more about the Smokeout here.