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South Dakota ranks very high in teen smoking - #1 cause of Death

It’s a fact that 80-percent of smokers who started in their teens continue to smoke into adulthood.  Those who continue to smoke die ten to 15 years ahead of their peers.  Of 44 states surveyed in 2011, South Dakota ranks number two in teen smoking.

“Being a rural state has a lot to do with such a high rate of teen smoking,” said Dr. E. Paul Amundson, Chief Medical Officer, DakotaCare.  “As to why South Dakota is going up, especially with the QuitLine, the services available to them leaves us actually scratching our heads.  A lot of times the youth want to be defiant and have become numb to the dangers and the help they can get.” 

Amundson said that it is really important for parents and peers continue to remind the youth about the dangers of smoking.  They have to be reminded of the dangers of primary and second-hand smoke has on their health.  That is the biggest thing adults can do and to remind them that they stink, their teeth are yellow and that includes smokeless tobacco.

“Smokeless tobacco is also very prevalent throughout the state and the country,” said Amundson.  “Of the people diagnosed with Oral Cancer, 50-percent of them are not alive within five years and a lot of them are diagnosed very young.  Oral Cancer is a very disfiguring and painful cancer, one you wouldn’t want to wish on anyone.” 

“People have the opportunity to turn to the South Dakota QuitLine which offers help such as free medications,” said Amundson.  “It provides telephonic support to those who want to quit this chronic addiction.  It used to be, three strikes and you are out, but not anymore.”

Amundson said, people will try to quit once or twice and fail, but they need to keep trying.  Having a support system is important!  It can be peers, family and your primary care physician.  People can use over-the-counter medications and healthy activities that take the place of smoking.

“People need to work hard to eliminate the times that you have the biggest risk of smoking, whether it’s first thing in the morning or out socializing,” said Amundson.  “People need to access the QuitLine at 1-866-SD-QUITS (1-866-737-8487).