Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. If that is not enough to encourage you to rethink your next cigarette, here’s a figure that should hit home: close to 16 people a day in Oklahoma die as a result of their tobacco use. That’s 6,200 Oklahomans a year! The Oklahoma Insurance Department is committed to helping Oklahomans kick the dangerous habit. That’s why I’m urging smokers take part in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 15. The national event encourages smokers to quit on that day or make a plan to quit on that day.

Not only is smoking bad for your health, but it’s also bad for your wallet. Each year, tobacco use costs the U.S. $193 billion. Half of the costs are related to healthcare, which eventually leads to higher insurance rates.

Today, our state ranks 48th in the United States for smoking. Nearly half of the 6,200 Oklahomans killed each year from tobacco use, die from cancer. The rest are killed by cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Smoking costs Oklahoma businesses, taxpayers and individuals more than $2 billion every year. But the true cost is the number of lives lost to something that’s entirely preventable.

Luckily, the tide is changing. Studies show that a majority of people who smoke want to quit. Three out of five adult smokers have made a serious attempt to quit during the past year. Doctors say quitting is hard because nicotine changes your brain. Those changes make you want to keep using nicotine and cause unpleasant psychological and physical withdrawals when you don’t have it. Experts say it’s harder to quit tobacco than it is to quit heroin or cocaine. The combination of counseling and FDA approved medications greatly increases your chances of quitting for good. The Great American Smokeout is a great way to let smokers know they’re not alone and help is available.

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a great resource and way to get started. Call 1-800-522-0071 for:

  • Free personalized assistance by professional Quit Coaches.
  • Up to five telephone sessions with your quit coach, twice per year.
  • Quit plans based on the individual’s needs.
  • Help identifying and accessing available benefits
  • Services available in Spanish & other languages.
  • Most participants are eligible for at least a two-week starter kit of nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges.

I urge you to make this important decision for yourself and your family. Call 1-800-522-0071.