Kick Butts Day highlights smoking cessation efforts in LA

Kick Butts Day highlights smoking cessation efforts in LA

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Getting smokers to kick the habit was the mission behind National Kick Butts Day on Wednesday.

Organizers say the observance started in 1996 as a day of activism to empower youths to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco.

It is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

By hosting "kick butts" events throughout the country, including many in Louisiana, the organization aims to explain the dangers of cigarettes to this young, vulnerable audience.

But that's just where the effort begins.

Smokers of all ages are getting help in Louisiana. In fact, the state has seen a 2 percent drop in the past year in the number of adults who smoke, according to the 2016 America's Health Rankings® Report from the United Health Foundation.

It reports that Louisiana ranks 43 out of 50 states (up three spots from 46th). The national average is 17.5 percent (an improvement from 18.1 percent in 2015).

Some credit the millions of dollars available to Louisiana smokers who developed their habit before Sept. 1, 1988, for the recent drop.

The money comes from a class-action lawsuit settlement that formed what's called the Smoking Cessation Trust.

"I've been addicted to nicotine, I'd say, about 37 years," Shreveport business owner Mark Jones said.

For him, it's an addiction of smokeless tobacco.

That's why Jones went to the Willis-Knighton Tobacco Treatment Clinic in Shreveport.

He has become one of the 200,000 people expected to benefit from the Smoking Cessation Trust over the next decade.

Treatment specialist Leah Manix says their free treatment begins with a question for each client: Why are you trying to quit?

"Because that's really where the motivation comes is their own personal reasons for why they're doing this," said Manix.

One of the ways that at least some people address smoking cessation is vaping.

Management at Tiger Vapes in Shreveport said most of their customers began vaping to quit smoking or the use of other tobacco products.

They include Daniel Wallace, who was at the store.

"My Dad told me, 'Hey, you quit smoking; I'll go buy you a vape' and I've been vaping since."

While some consider vaping on par with smoking, manager Justyna Wilson couldn't disagree more.

"There is over, I wanna say, 6,000 ingredients; whereas, in here, you have four main ingredients."

But whether it's vaping, quitting cold turkey or using counseling and even medication, experts suggest picking a specific day to quit and have a plan.

Here's something to consider if you're thinking about quitting.

Government figures show that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 people a year.

That's more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

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