Great American Smoke Out encourages smokers to quit, local help available

Health News

PEORIA, Ill. — Researchers studied the smoking habits in 195 countries and territories and found that smoking remains a leading global risk factor for death and disability.

While the U.S. Smoking rate has dropped by about 2 percent every year for both men and women since 1990, about 14 percent of American adults are still regular smokers.

That amounts to about 37 million smokers.

To combat the issue locally, OSF St. Francis Healthcare is stepping up to challenge current smokers to quit especially around the holidays.

“There’s a lot of stress during the holidays so there’s probably a little bit more smoking,” said Kathi Copelen, Cancer Service Coordinator | OSF Healthcare. “You’ve got family, finances, so I think it’s a time when people might be smoking more usually would. So we’re trying to help them get through that.”

Local doctors say like any addiction, smoking is a hard habit to kick, but the benefits of quitting can be felt immediately.

“We’d like to see them quit [smoking] for the day.,” said Copelen. “Hopefully that would make it so they’d quit the next day, and the next day on, but we’re also just even looking to help them cut down for right now.”

Research published in The Lancet found that that smoking can be attributed to 1 in every 10 deaths globally, which is equivalent to 6.4 million people every year.

Dr. Sudhir Mungee is an OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute interventional cardiologist. He says it’s a risk factor that is also completely preventable if the right steps are taken.

“A single risk factor has an impact on not only the vascular disease but also pulmonary diseases,” said Dr. Mungee. “It’s a no brainer. Quitting smoking is probably the biggest favor one can do to your overall improved health status.”

According to Dr. Mungee, patients often wait too long to quit and seek help only after a major health event.

“This day and age, where the information is so available and the help is already there, I think you need to have a preemptive strike. You need to quit smoking before it strikes you,” he said. “And I think that’s the key. I think patient education, empowerment of knowledge, those are very important factors.”

Quitting is possible with the right tools. If you are struggling with a smoking addiction, ask your OSF HealthCare provider about available programs to help you quit, or visit the Lung & Pulmonology resource page at for more information.

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