March 21, 2003

Hispanic/Latino Tobacco Education Network Encourages Smoke-free Lent

While any time is a good time to quit smoking, smokers often wait for a “right time” to do it. This year, the Hispanic/Latino Tobacco Education Network is encouraging smokers to take charge and make Lent the start of a smoke-free life.

“Smokers who choose Lent as a time to quit smoking will find lots of support from fellow Catholics who are also practicing self sacrifice in preparation for Easter,” said Lourdes Báezconde Garbanati, Ph.D., M.P.H., project director of the statewide Hispanic/Latino tobacco education coalition. “Non-Catholics can also choose the start of spring to quit and help put a new twist on the idea of spring cleaning.”

Members of the Network are calling for a smoke-free Lent and spring because smokers often delay or put off quitting smoking until it is too late. This denial of their smoking addiction will lead them to serious illness or death.

“Unfortunately, smokers underestimate the addictive qualities of tobacco and fail to recognize their own physical need to smoke,” said Báezconde-Garbanati. “But more than 400,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases in the U.S. alone.”

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It can lead to a poor quality of life because smokers can suffer diseases that can leave them unable to work, do normal household chores, or even sleep.

Smokers willing to take the challenge of quitting can take these steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to increase their chances for quitting successfully.1. Quit completely. Smokers should decide to quit for good and throw out all cigarettes, ash trays and lighters in the home, car and office. When you get the urge, have some gum or a mint to help with the craving.

2. Write down the reasons for quitting. Smokers can keep them handy as a reminder of the importance to quit. Reasons might include protecting children from secondhand smoke, improved health, and cost savings.

3. Know that quitting smoking is a challenge. Smokers may feel symptoms of withdrawal for about a month. Have a plan to call on friends for support, have a good book to read, or go for a walk whenever there is an urge to smoke.

4. More than 44 million people have successfully quit. That’s encouraging news and should help smokers feel that quitting smoking is a reachable goal.

5. Get help. The California Smokers’ Helpline is a free and confidential telephone counseling service available to smokers who want to quit smoking. By calling 1-800-45-NO FUME, smokers can receive advice in Spanish on quitting smoking, free materials on how to quit smoking on their own or referrals to local smoking cessation services.

Most smokers want to quit, but many just never get around to it.

“Lent is a good time to start a smoke-free, healthy life, for your sake and that of your family,” said Báezconde-Garbanati.

Return to the Frontpage