The Frederick County Health Department is encouraging tobacco users to use the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout event on Nov. 18 as the day to commit to quitting smoking.

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. According to the 2019 Maryland Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, there are over 16,000 current adult smokers in Frederick County. The Center for Disease Control reports that smoking increases your risk for severe illness from COVID-19. It also increases your risk for respiratory infections like pneumonia, colds or the flu. If you smoke, the best choice for your lung health is to quit.

Quitting is hard. It takes commitment and starts with a plan. It often takes more than one quit attempt, and requires a lot of support. The Frederick County Health Department recommends the following tips to help smokers quit:

· Set a quit date and mark it on your calendar.

· Make a list of reasons why you want to quit.

· Get rid of ashtrays, lighters and cigarettes in your home, car and work.

· Make a list of family and friends who will support you.

· Consider enrolling in a cessation program or contacting the Quitline.

· If you are taking prescription medications, first discuss your plans to quit with your doctor or health care provider.

Getting help through counseling or prescription medications increases your chances of quitting successfully. Support including smoking cessation programs can also be helpful. The Frederick County Health Department offers free smoking cessation services. In addition to receiving individual or group counseling, registered participants may be eligible to receive free Nicotine Replacement Therapy products including patches, gum and lozenges. Using NRT not only improves quit outcomes but also reduces the discomfort associated with quitting. For more information or to register for services, call 301-600-1755 or visit frederickcountymd.gov/FCHD/TobaccoFree.

Another valuable resource for your quit attempt is the Maryland Tobacco Quitline Maryland (1-800-QUIT-NOW). The Quitline offers free confidential coaching support for Maryland residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including free nicotine replacement therapy. Tobacco users can call 800-784-8669 or visit http://www.smokingstopshere.com to learn more or to enroll in the program.

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