KINGMAN - Getting more people to kick their smoking habits to the curb may be one of the fastest ways to improve the health of Mohave County residents.
The Community Health Profile for Mohave County, a recent health study by Kingman Regional Medical Center and the Mohave County Department of Public Health, ranks smoking as one of the leading causes of preventable disease and death in Mohave County residents.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Mohave County ranked third in the state for the most smokers per capita in 2011 with 24 percent of the adult population. The two counties with the highest number of residents who smoke were La Paz with 38 percent and Santa Cruz with 26 percent.
All three counties have rates that are much higher than the national adult average of 21 percent and the state average of 19 percent.
"High rates of smoking, alcohol use and obesity are certain to lead to debilitating diseases, infirmities and premature death in Mohave County," the Community Health Profile states.
Smoking has been linked to lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to the Community Health Profile, the leading causes of premature death in Mohave County are: heart disease, cancer (particularly lung cancer) and chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and COPD.
"The death rate from COPD in Mohave County is alarmingly high and most certainly attributed to the large number of smokers in the community," the health profile states.
According to the study, approximately 100 people will die from the disease for every 100,000 people in Mohave County. The county has a population of more than 200,000 people.
Statewide around 49 people for every 100,000 residents will die from COPD. Arizona has population of more than 6.5 million.
Mohave County's rate of lung cancer is also particularly high, according to the Community Health Profile.
Approximately 83 people for every 100,000 people living in Mohave County between 2005 and 2009 developed lung cancer, according to the study.
During that same time period, 55 people for every 100,000 in Arizona and 67 people for every 100,000 in the U.S. developed the disease.
"Over 85 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking," the Community Health Profile states. "Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in men and the second leading cause of death in women in Mohave County."
Adults also pass on their smoking habits to their children.
According to the Mohave County Community Profile for the 2012 Arizona Youth Survey, approximately 35.8 percent of the more than 2,000 8th, 10th and 12th graders in the county surveyed have smoked at least one cigarette in their lifetime and 14.8 percent have smoked one or more cigarettes in the last 30 days. The average age a student in Mohave County takes his or her first puff on a cigarette is 12.5.
In comparison, 29 percent of students those three grades across the state reported that they have smoked at least one cigarette in their lifetime and 13 percent in the last 30 days. Statewide, the average age a student takes their first puff is around 13.
Students also recognize the risks of smoking, with 82 percent in Mohave County saying that people who smoke one or more packs of cigarettes daily are at "moderate or great risk of harming themselves."
Mohave County students have a better assessment of those risks than their statewide peers. According to the 2012 Arizona Youth Survey, 65 percent of students statewide said that people put themselves at risk by smoking.
The number of students using cigarettes is trending down, according to both youth studies. In 2010, 34 percent of students in the state reported having tried cigarettes and 14 percent reported smoking within the last 30 days. The same year, 36.5 percent of students in Mohave County reported trying cigarettes and 15 percent reported smoking in the last 30 days.
But quitting tobacco isn't easy. According to the Arizona Department of Health Service's Tobacco Free Arizona webpage, it usually takes more than eight tries before someone can truly quit.
ADHS offers free telephone and web-based help through the Arizona Smokers' Help Line. The line offers free live support from former smokers and free plans to quit smoking. In some cases, people who want to quit may be eligible for free stop smoking aids such as patches and gum.
The ASH Line has an iPhone app, "Call It Quits." The app allows people to use the contacts in their phone to create a support group and text for help when they're feeling a craving for a cigarette.
Local help is available through the Mohave County Tobacco Use Prevention Program.
For more information, visit ASHLine.org or call (888) 454-4924 and chose opt. 2. MCTUPP can be reached by calling the Mohave County Public Health Department at (928) 753-0794.
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