By Ashlyn Seeley Everett, M.D., radiation oncologist at Alliance Cancer Care
What is National Kick Butts Day? Since 1996, this event has been held to decrease youth smoking rates and advocate for policies to protect our youth from tobacco. Unfortunately, with the decline of cigarette use, there has been a trend of increasing use of e-cigarettes or vaping devices. All of these products are addictive and dangerous products, which put our families, friends, and communities at risk of multiple health issues, including cancer.
In Alabama, we have a lot of room for improvement with smoking cessation. Approximately 700,000 people living in Alabama are smokers (18.5%). Each year, 8,600 Alabama adults will die from their own smoking. Smoking now kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car wrecks, illegal drug use, murders, and suicides COMBINED. In our teenage population, 20% of high school students use e-cigarettes, and 7% use cigarettes. Approximately 1600 kids under the age of 18 become new smokers daily in Alabama. This translates to over 100,000 kids who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.
Smoking is related to many health issues, including heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. Smoking is known to cause head and neck cancers and lung cancer and is strongly associated with bladder cancer and esophageal cancer. During April, we celebrate head and neck cancer awareness month. Cancers in the mouth, tongue, and voice box are strongly associated with smoking. The most effective thing that can be done to prevent cancer is to “Kick Butts” and STOP SMOKING. Even after a cancer is diagnosed, you can improve your chances of cancer cure by STOPPING SMOKING. Research supports that patients who continue to smoke during and after cancer treatment have significantly less chance of being alive five years after a cancer diagnosis.
To help decrease the risk of these very aggressive cancers and improve your overall health, we want to help “kick butts” and promote a tobacco-free environment in our community. If you are a smoker or know someone who is a smoker – the time to quit is NOW. Some programs offer free nicotine replacement to help with quitting. Our doctors also have some helpful smoking cessation items on our Amazon store, where we also have products recommended to patients receiving radiation treatments.
If you are ready to quit, here are some helpful resources for helping you “kick butts”:
– Alabama Quit Now: 1-800-QUIT-NOW
– American Cancer Society Quit for Life: 866-QUIT-4-LIFE
– CDC’s: How to Quit Smoking
– Alliance Cancer Care’s Amazon Store