Nearly a half million Kansans smoke tobacco and the majority of them would like to kick the habit.
Health officials hope Thursday's Great American Smokeout will give people inspiration. If they're not ready to do it for themselves, they hope smokers will see the growing evidence that they should do it for those they care about. Cotton-O'Neil Cardiologist Dr. Lambert Wu says the latest Surgeon General's report makes clear the risks of breathing in someone else's tobacco smoke.
"There are at least 50 cancer-causing substances in cigarette smoke," Wu says.
Wu says health officials classify second-hand smoke as a Group A carcinogen - a cancer causing agent. He says it's not just lung cancer people need to worry about. He says second-hand smoke exposure can cause clotting in the blood vessels and can damage the inner lining of the vessels, making them more susceptible to plaquing and creating a risk for heart attack.
Wu says protecting yourself means staying away from places where people are smoking cigarettes. As for smokers, he says they should think twice about lighting up around people, especially people who do not smoke.
"One breath is enough to do damage," he said. "There is no safe level of cigarette smoke exposure."
Several Kansas lawmakers have said they'll push for a ban on smoking in public places. Right now, several cities, including Lawrence, have ordinances in place.
Kansas has a toll-free Tobacco Quitline to help people quit smoking. It can be reached at 1-866-KAN-STOP (1-866-526-7867).