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Great American Smokeout aims to reduce smoking rates, increase lung cancer screenings

The Bakersfield Californian - 11/17/2023

Nov. 16—There's a lot of encouraging news these days in the study and treatment of lung cancer.

More lung cancer patients, for example, are living longer following their initial diagnosis. And the prevalence of cigarette smoking in adults in the U.S. declined from 14 percent in 2019 to 12 percent in 2021.

That translates to an estimated 5.7 million fewer adults who smoke, according to an American Cancer Society study released earlier this year.

But there's bad news, too.

The cancer society joined with Kern County Public Health, Blue Zones Project Bakersfield, and Adventist Health to hold a joint news conference Thursday morning to kick off the Great American Smoke Out of Kern County — and to emphasize the importance of early lung cancer screening aimed at reducing cancer deaths.

"Thank you for joining us this morning as we raise awareness around smoking cessation on this day, the Great American Smokeout," Jasmine Ochoa, health equity officer at the Kern County Department of Public Health, said at a gathering in front of the AIS Cancer Center.

"According to the 2022 results of the California Health Interview Survey, 33.1 percent of Kern County adult residents who have ever smoked, reported that they smoke every day," Ochoa said.

That's more than twice the rate in the state as a whole, she said.

Ochoa invited everyone to visit kernpublichealth.com or ask to speak with the agency's Tobacco Prevention Program by calling 661-321-3000.

Karina Funez, policy advocate at Blue Zones Project Bakersfield, said commercial tobacco companies have a long history of targeting vulnerable populations.

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