By Mark Hedin, Ethnic Media Services
SAN FRANCISCO – California is once again emerging as a leader in the fight against Big Tobacco with the California Smokers’ Helpline, renamed Kick It California — the state’s official effort to help people stop smoking.
Through Kick It California, anyone who wants to quit tobacco use – whether it’s cigarette smoking, vaping, chewing or anything else – will find an array of resources available for free on the program’s new, mobile-friendly website, kickitca.org. Other ways to get started on the path to better health include texting “Quit Smoking” to the number 66819 or calling 1-800-300-8086. The program offers services in English and Spanish, including coaching, and in some cases providing nicotine patches, gum or lozenges at no charge.
“Kick It California has helped more than one million Californians kick the habit. We’re here to help you take that first step toward being tobacco free — and we encourage you to check out our website for free guides and quit plans, or speak with one of our quit coaches to make a personalized quit plan that will work for you,” said Emily Aughinbaugh, Kick It California program director.
Now more than ever, it’s important for Californians to prioritize their mental health. More than half of the smokers who called California’s Quitline reported a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, drug/alcohol abuse or schizophrenia, and two-thirds faced more than one condition.
Notably, more than 70% of all smokers in this study tried to quit, regardless of mental health status. The high rate at which the sampled smokers sought help quitting indicates that counseling, like the services offered by Kick It California, can provide an “excellent opportunity toward improving smokers’ quality of life.”
Quitting smoking is a process that often takes several attempts to succeed. But, it’s well worth the effort, both for one’s physical and mental health.
Quitting smoking at any age is beneficial as it reduces the risk of premature death from chronic diseases and improves overall health. Over time, you lower your risk of heart disease, poor reproductive health outcomes and 12 types of cancer, including lung, liver and bladder. Within the first 24 hours of quitting, nicotine levels in the blood drops to zero. By the second week, circulation has improved and your lungs are starting to work better. Did you know that quitting can add as much as 10 years to your life expectancy?
In addition to spurring physical improvements, quitting tobacco use can reduce anxiety and stress — and even lead to improved mood and quality of life.
Kick It California is there to help Californians kick the habit of smoking, not only to support their physical well-being, but also their mental health.
“Every step forward counts. Start 2022 tobacco free!” Aughinbaugh of Kick It California urged.