This year, the theme for Barry County's first Great American Smokeout is "Going Cold Turkey." The event is set for Wednesday, Nov. 14 and Thursday, Nov. 15.
According to Leesa Ginther, R.N. at the Barry County Health Department and event coordinator, commitment stations will be established at four locations in Monett and Cassville. In Monett, those stations will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Barry County Health Department, Cox Monett Hospital, Bruner Pharmacy and Old Town Pharmacy. In Cassville, commitment stations will be set up at the Barry County Health Department, Access Family Care Center, Sater Pharmacy and Mercy Hospital.
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, participants will sign a commitment card pledging their intent to quit smoking and then throw away their packs of cigarettes.
Participants can register for prizes and receive informational and support materials in their efforts to kick the nicotine habit. Cold turkey sandwiches from Subway will be given to those signing the commitment cards.
A special event in conjunction with the American Cancer Society is planned for Thursday, Nov. 15 with details still to be finalized.
"Smoking is incredibly harmful," Ginther said. "There are all kinds of chemicals in tobacco products that have negative impacts on the body."
Some of those include: arsenic, which is found in rat poison; acetic acid, found in vinegar, hair dye and photo developing fluid; acetone, the main ingredient in paint thinner and fingernail polish remover; ammonia, found in household cleaning items; carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas found in vehicle exhaust fumes; hydrogen cyanide, a poison used in gas chambers and chemical weapons; lead, a toxic metal found in some paints; nitrobenzene, used as a solvent in petroleum refining; and phenol, used in disinfectants and plastics.
Exposure to these chemicals, and the addictive chemical nicotine, can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and emphysema. Smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, cervix, kidney, stomach and bladder.
"In Missouri, nearly 19 percent of high school students smoke, compared to 19.5 percent nationally," Ginther said. "The number of new smokers under the age of 18 is about 8,600 each year."
The adult rate of smokers in the state is 21.1 percent, 1.8 percent above the national average of 19.3 percent.
The tax burden to citizens from government expenditures due to smoking is about $565 per household.
In Missouri, about 9,500 adults die each year due to complications from smoking. It is estimated that 140,000 smokers under the age of 18 will ultimately die prematurely due to smoking.
"Quitting is beneficial to everyone," Ginther said. "Children exposed to smoking in their homes are breathing in the same cancer-causing chemicals as their parents who smoke, and they are at risk for the same illnesses."
The human body can rebound to some degree after a person quits smoking.
After 12 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in the body drop to normal. After three months, circulation improves and lung function increases. After nine months, cilia, the hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs, regain normal function in cleaning the lungs and reducing the risk of infection. After a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker. After 10 years, the death rate for lung cancer is half that of someone who has continued to smoke.
Volunteers at the quitting stations will offer information on developing a plan to quit smoking, allowing the participant to key in on triggers that stimulate the urge to reach for a cigarette. Information on nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum, lozenges, nasal spray and inhalants will be offered to help individuals overcome the symptoms of withdrawal.
"There is a free Missouri Quit Line at 800-QUIT-NOW," Ginther said. "It is a valuable resource for those trying to quit smoking."
For more information on Barry County's "Going Cold Turkey," contact Ginther at the Barry County Health Department at 417-354-8686.