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Common Sense On: Quitting Smoking

December 19, 2006

Common Sense On: Quitting Smoking

Q: How harmful is smoking to people’s health?

A: According to the American Lung Association, smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. Not only can smoking cause lung cancer, it is also believed to increase one’s risk of developing 10 other cancers as well. Bear in mind too that research shows smoking can cause respiratory illnesses and heart disease. In fact, it is thought that a smoker’s risk of dying from a heart attack is twice that of a non-smoker’s.

Q: What health benefits stem from quitting?

A: The good news is that, according to the American Cancer Society, there are dramatic and immediate health benefits when you stop smoking: blood circulation increases, blood pressure and heart rate improve, breathing is easier, and your sense of taste and smell improves. One year after quitting, a person’s additional risk of heart disease is cut in half. Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of heart disease is the same as if one never smoked at all.

Q: What resources are available to people who want to quit?

A: There is a lot of support to help people stop smoking. Assistance programs are available from hospitals, clinics, schools, government agencies, work sites, community organizations and the Internet. For the program nearest you, contact the Iowa Department of Public Health at (515) 281-7689. Iowans can also contact the American Cancer Society at (515) 253-0147 or the American Lung Association at (515) 278-5864. Remember, anytime is a great time to stop smoking.

Q. What can Congress do to help Iowans stop smoking?

A. Concerned with the health issues caused by smoking, I introduced two anti-tobacco bills during the fall of 2006. The Smoke-Free Mothers and Babies Act is aimed at helping women on Medicaid stop smoking during pregnancy. The Truth in Cigarette Labeling Act is intended to prevent tobacco companies from using misleading descriptors, such as “light” or “low,” to market cigarettes. I plan to reintroduce both of these bills next year to help Iowans, and Americans across the country, kick the habit. Another one of my priorities during the 110th Congress will be passing long overdue legislation that will give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products.