Some smokers can put a cigarette down, vow to never smoke again, and keep their promise. But for most, it won’t be that easy. Most smokers will need help quitting.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, most African American adult cigarette smokers want to quit smoking, and many have tried. Among African American current daily cigarette smokers aged 18 years and older: 72.8 percent report that they want to quit compared to 67.5 percent of Whites and 67.4 percent of Hispanics, and 63.4 percent report attempting to quit compared to 53.3 percent of Whites and 56.2 percent of Hispanics.

“Despite more attempts to quit, African Americans are less successful at quitting than White and Hispanic cigarette smokers, possibly because of lower utilization of cessation treatments such as counseling and medication,” said Amy Winter, Director of the Office of Tobacco Control at the Mississippi State Department of Health. “We want to bridge that gap.”

Tobacco users who want to quit can receive treatment free of charge through the MSDH Office of Tobacco Control. However, coupling medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with counseling (in-person and over the telephone with a Quitline representative) increases the success rate tremendously. Counseling through MSDH is also free.

Free help is an impressive incentive to stop something that could lead to a fatal illness. Tobacco use is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans—heart disease, cancer and stroke. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death among African Americans. The risk of developing diabetes is 30 to 40 percent higher for cigarette smokers than nonsmokers.

Although African Americans usually smoke fewer cigarettes per day and start smoking cigarettes at an older age, they are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than Whites. Sometimes more consumption doesn’t equate to an outcome that is worse than someone who doesn’t smoke as much. Tobacco is bad no matter how often it’s used or the race of the person using it. The best thing for anyone to do is to not start.

For information and resources about the dangers of e-cigarettes, tobacco products, or COVID-19, visit www.healthyms.com/tobacco or www.healthyms.com/COVID-19. For help with quitting visit www.quitlinems.com, or call the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

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