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Health

Smokers urged to quit as Great American Smokeout is underway

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, 10:15 a.m.

Don't smoke 'em if you got 'em.

That's the message Thursday from acting Health Secretary and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine as she encouraged Pennsylvania residents to take part in a Great American Smokeout event near them to learn more about ways to quit cigarette smoking.

"Smoking kills, and these events give people the tools they need to break this dangerous addiction," Dr. Levine said. "Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life. It is difficult, but we want smokers to know that help is available and the effort is worth it."

Figures from the Allegheny County Health Department show that more than 12 percent of pregnant women in the county smoke cigarettes. Tobacco use can cause low birth weight and infertility. In all, 19 percent of county residents, or 233,000 people, are smokers.

Anyone interested in stopping tobacco use can call a free "Quitline" at 800-QUIT-NOW." Staff are waiting to help people carry out a plan to quit smoking.

The Great American Smokeout is sponsored annually by the American Cancer Society on the third Thursday in November each year.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Allegheny Health Network in conjunction with Breathe Pennsylvania , a nonprofit lung health advocacy group, on Thursday announced a social media campaign in an effort to curb smoking.

Here's how it works:

• Take a photo of one of AHN's unique displays highlighting smoking cessation and lung cancer survivors. The displays are on the Sandusky Street side of Allegheny General Hospital; at 16th Street and Penn Avenue; and on sidewalks in a variety of Pittsburgh locations, including West Penn Hospital, Liberty Avenue, Boulevard of the Allies, Fifth Avenue, Federal Street, Butler Street, the Clemente and Rachel Carson bridges and Fort Duquesne Boulevard.

• Post the photo publicly on social media and tag @AHNToday

• For each tagged photo, AHN will donate $10 to Breathe PA's smoking cessation programs.

The campaign lasts throughout November.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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