The Great American Smokeout in Reno - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

The Great American Smokeout in Reno

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There wasn't a whiff of smoke in the Renown cafeteria Thursday, as medical pros talked the hard truth about what they see. Nurse Navigator Lisa Gardner told us she hears and sees "Coughing, problems breathing...other lung diseases like COPD and emphysema from smoking." She told us she sees that every day.

Renown respiratory therapist Robert Richard has been trying to get people to quit for 30 years now. Over time, he said the faces are different, but not much else has changed. "They're carrying around oxygen with a tube in their nose. It's very uncomfortable being strapped to a tank of oxygen gas."

Even though the U.S. smoking rate has been declining for years, here in Nevada the decline in smoking has smoldered out. These anti-smoking soldiers set up a table at Renown's cafeteria to help get Nevadans to kick the habit. Lisa Gardner reminded folks who came by that "The primary cause for lung cancer is smoking. It's a preventable cause as well."

Across town at the Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition meeting, the Washoe County Health District's Erin Dixon says it is worse where we live. She said, "We've come a long way in Nevada, but its slightly higher than the national average, and we have a long way to go."

About one-fourth of Nevadans smoke, and it is still our top killer. But there's alarm over smoking's newest customers. Despite all the education and warnings, 22.3% of Nevadans aged 18-24 smoke. One in five high-schoolers smoke, as do an alarming 11% of middle school students:

Who smokes in Nevada:

All ages: 22.2%

Ages 18 to 24: 22.3%

23.2% of high school students

11% of middle school students

At Renown, Robert Richard is frustrated that cigarettes are still so popular among students. But he does understand in a way. He told us, "The reality is, nicotine is a really addictive substance." Lisa Gardner rolled her eyes when asked about the students she sees. "That's because it's scary, because they think that they're invincible."

But there is one cheap fix that does seem to stop kids from smoking. Nevada Tobacco Program Coordinator Karla Bee told us, "I think being involved in your child's life, asking those questions is really important."

They say in this case, kids do listen to their parents.

-written by John Potter

There are many local resources if you want to quit. Renown has a Quit Tobacco Program where smokers learn to kick the habit for good. And there's also a web-based program where you can do it from home. Here are the links to all:


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