Smokers Quit For A Day

November 20, 1991|By Cindy Parr | Cindy Parr,Contributing writer

For 19 years, Kim has been smoking a pack a day. Now, the Finksburg resident and mother of two wants to kick the cigarette habit.

"I would like to feel better physically," she said. "Activities like biking or playing tennis cause me to have shortness of breath. If I quit,I could be more active."

Tomorrow, Kim and many smokers nationwide will put aside their tobacco for 24 hours as part of the American Cancer Society's 15th annual Great American Smokeout.

"Basically, the goal of the smoke-out is to show the smoker that if they can quit for 24 hours, they can quit permanently," said Kirsten Moore, a health education intern for the county Health Department. "We would like to see 20 percent of the smokers in Carroll give up their tobacco."

County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr., who has served as a board member for the American Cancer Society in Carroll for 14 years, said the smoke-out is a fun event with a significant purpose.

"We all know that smoking is the one thing people do that they can control, and by stopping, they can better their health," he said.

"It's nationwide, which means it provides us with a national awareness that says there are ill effects to smoking. Basically, it brings a message to the individual which says if you stop smoking, you can prolong your life."

Kim's smoking hasbecome a source of concern for her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

"Since my son was in kindergarten, he has been asking me toquit smoking," she said. "My daughter has started making the same request."

Even her husband says her cigarette smoking is a nuisance.

"My husband doesn't like the cigarettes either," Kim said. "The smell in the house and the fact that the kids are breathing in secondary smoke really bothers him."

Random House and Carroll County General Hospital are the only two county employers who will be participating in the smoke-out.

"The Health Department sent out information to businesses in the county, challenging them to join our campaign," Moore said.

She said non-smokers will "adopt" co-workers who smoke, to provide support and encouragement throughout the work day as they try to stop smoking.

The goal of the smoke-out is to provide a supportive, positive atmosphere for smokers trying to quit, Moore said.

Kim quit smoking nearly 10 years ago, inspired by the Great American Smokeout.

"I quit on the day of the smoke-out in 1982," she recalled. "I didn't have a cigarette for 11 months. Unfortunately, I ended up starting to smoke all over again."

About 20,000 county adults, or 22.2 percent, smoke cigarettes, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene estimates.

This year, the Carroll unit of theAmerican Cancer Society hopes the event will not only get smokers tostop but also keep non-smokers from starting.

"We would like to see smokers kick the habit for a day, so they know that they can go onwithout cigarettes," Thompson said. "Also, we like to use the smoke-out to educate non-smokers about the dangers and hope that they neverstart."

"If I stop tomorrow, I know that this time I will never start smoking again," said Kim. "I have always said if I could go 24 hours without a cigarette, I could go forever.

"The first time I quit, I was 10 years younger, and I didn't feel like cigarettes had anyadverse affect on me," she said.

"Now, they are affecting me. There is the shortness of breath, and I cough more frequently."

Kim hopes to make it through the 24 hours without lighting up, so she can inspire her 59-year-old mother, who has been smoking for 37 years, tostop.

"I think if I quit, my mother will kick the habit, too," Kim said. "She would feel like she was doing it not only for herself, but for us, her family."

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