Tanana Chiefs talks impact of smoking, provides tips for quitting on World No Tobacco Day

Published: May. 31, 2021 at 3:36 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 3:37 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Today is World No Tobacco day which seeks to encourage smokers to put down tobacco for a day and consider quitting, and Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) has some tips to assist.

The event was started by the World Health Organization with the goal of encouraging smokers to quit, as well as prevent youth from starting.

According to Frank Yaska, Tobacco Prevention Policy Specialist with TCC, smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Yaska explained, “In the CDC’s reports, [there are] 480,000 deaths due to tobacco each year in America, and in Alaska specifically, we’ve learned that it’s 700 deaths. So we lose 700 loved ones each year in Alaska from tobacco use, and it is the leading cause of preventable death by far - [more] than suicide, motor vehicle crashes, cirrhosis, murder, and HIV/AIDS combined. So it’s the leading cause of preventable death and a lot of people are aware of it. It’s just really sad and difficult to overcome.”

And according to Yaska, COVID-19 has presented a unique threat to those who smoke due to the virus’ effect on the lungs. Yaska remarked, “COVID-19 is of course a huge traumatic experience for us all this last year, and what’s devastating is that tobacco use is detrimental to lung health. It makes the lungs vulnerable even more for COVID-19, more specifically in the recovery from COVID-19, making it worse or lengthening the symptoms of it, or even death. It’s a really scary thing and a great motivating tool as well because of the information that was released from the CDC that says it’s much more dangerous for you to continue to smoke around COVID-19. It’s increasing tobacco quit rates, and that’s a wonderful thing. I’d love to see that continue on in the future.”

There are several resources available for those looking to take the first step in quitting tobacco, according to Yaska. “So if they’re ready to quit, and they’re motivated, and they really want to try to create those first steps, they can also go to the doctor, their main medical provider - or they could also call Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line [at] 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Those are some local resources and state resources as well. And the quit line, Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line, is free for all Alaskans 18 years or older. It’s a wonderful resource, they have many programs available. They have tiered resources based on how much you want to involve yourself with.”

Along with the Alaska Tobacco Quit Line number and website, the CDC also has tips for how to quit which can be found on their website.

The World Health Organization also has resources on their site, along with more information on the World No Tobacco Day campaign.

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