Letters to the Editor

Help available to quit smoking

Re Dwight Fee letter, "21-day setup conquers addiction," June 9:

Fee made some excellent points regarding a system designed to help individuals quit smoking. As he noted, cigarettes are going to be taxed at an-all time high in South Carolina making it not only smart for one's health, but also one's wallet or pocketbook.

I wanted to echo his suggestions with some fantastic programs that are available and free to the public - many of which they may not be aware.

Smoking cessation medicines work best with help from your doctor, one-on-one counseling, call-in telephone quit lines (1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.scdhec.gov/health/chcdp/tobacco/quitforkeeps.htm) and quit-smoking classes or support groups. Several of the drug companies offer free one-month trials of medication as well as free counseling and can be available to you by visiting your doctor.

For the many employees of South Carolina, there are a few excellent options. Information about The Free & Clear Quit for Life Program can be found by calling 866-QUIT-4-LIFE or by clicking on the Prevention Partners button at www.eip.sc.gov. State employees interested in the Quit Today Tobacco Cessation Program can call 866-417-7848 or go to www.mycigna.com.

As a physician, I see both the statistics and the real-life stories, and I urge my patients and all South Carolinians to take steps to stop smoking before they become one of "the numbers."

According to the American Heart Association:

Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States.

Nationwide, smoking accounts for more than 440,000 annual deaths.

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders, such as fatty buildups in arteries, several types of cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for young men and women. It produces a greater relative risk in persons younger than 50 than in those older than 50.

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.