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While record numbers of people quit smoking cigarettes during the beginning of 2020, numbers of smokers are on the rise in Louisiana. Quit smoking with me today for the Great American Smoke Out!

After smoking for nearly 30 years, I put down cigarettes July 1st with the help of my primary care physician and the use of Chantix. My main motivators were getting healthy, watching my ex-husband struggle with lung cancer and fear of COVID-19.

Back in July, a study in England reported that more people had quit smoking in the first six months of 2020 than in the past decade. 41% of the respondents in the study attributed it in part to the pandemic. Other contributing factors included health concerns, access, or lack thereof to tobacco while isolating or no longer smoking socially. To put the 41% number in perspective, since the folks at the University College London started collecting data regarding smoking habits in 2007, on average, only 5.9% of smokers made the decision to quit on an annual basis. That's HUGE!

This is also big news because according to research in the United States by the New England Journal of Medicine released in June, smokers have been 1.8 times more likely to die than non-smokers when hospitalized for COVID-19.

However, not everyone is quitting. In fact, tobacco sales are up in Louisiana. According to Louisiana Radio Network, Tonia Moore, the Director of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living says that in 2019, roughly 21% of adults in Louisiana smoked. That's 1 in 5 adults and that numbers is shocking! What's even more shocking is that Moore says that tobacco sales are up for 2020... a lot! During an interview with LRN, she said, 'We saw about 23-million packs of cigarettes sold in March and close to that number in April when compared to the previous year where we’re looking at about 16 to 17-million packs.' That's a huge increase. Of course, the stressors of 2020 isn't helping anyone, but when you compare dealing with your stress versus the health complications that smoking can exacerbate, you really have to weigh your options.

If the time is right for you to quit smoking, help is available. You can work with your primary care physician like I did or you can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit QuitwithusLA.org for access to more smoking cessation resources.