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Mississippians are Being Encouraged to Quit smoking During Today’s Great American Smokeout

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 21 Nov 2013 10:01am | comments

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and studies show that nearly 5,000 adults in Mississippi die each year from smoking related illnesses.  As part of the Great American Smokeout Day, MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports smokers are being encouraged to take steps towards a healthier life. 

Judy Thames of Jackson knows firsthand how devastating cigarette smoking can be on a family.

"My mother was a smoker, my father smoked cigars. And my mother had quite a few health problems. And she had heart failure, she had some strokes, her kidneys were not in good shape. She had a lot of health problems."

Thames says she has smoked consistently for more than 50 years without any serious health issues but  now fears she could be developing, a lung disease,  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease also known as COPD. 

" There's some chance I could be in the early stages of that, I do give out of breath easily. But there's not really anything you can do about that except quit smoking and that's not a plan for me right now." 

Research shows 90 percent of people who die from COPD had a history of smoking.  Dr. James Kiley with the National Institutes of Health, says while there is no cure for COPD,  there are ways to make life better.

"If you currently smoke or you're a former smoker, your over the age of about 40 or 45, you have some symptoms that like chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing or just feeling like you can’t do everyday activities.  Just walking up stairs, carrying groceries, playing a round of golf. Again, if you diagnose early, get on a treatment plan to mitigate the symptoms then we think that you can improve the overall quality of life for an individual with COPD."

It is estimated that more than 140 thousand Mississippians are currently diagnosed with COPD. However due to the lack of knowledge about the disease many cases often go undiagnosed. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.

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