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Sonora, CA — Still smoking? This Thursday, November 20 is the Great American Smoke Out and perfect time to quit.

Tuolumne County’s Health Officer Dr. Todd Stolp says, “Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in America and Tuolumne County leads the state in smoking rates.” As previously reported, 26% of residents in the county over 18 reported smoking cigarettes according to the 2013 County Community Health Assessment report.

Calaveras County Health officials report its adult smoking rate was recently estimated at 18.2%, compared to the state rate of 13.8%. In 2012, teens in grades 9-12 had a 10% smoking rate. One product adding to the problem is electronic cigarettes according to Calaveras’ health officer, who cautions that is not quitting.  “E-cigarettes promote nicotine to a new generation, which for many can turn into a deadly addiction,” says Dr. Dean Kelaita. “Nicotine, one of the main ingredients in e-cigarettes and tobacco products, is a poison and a highly addictive drug.”

“Quit Kits” are available at both county health departments. In Tuolumne County, pick up a kit at the Public Health office from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 20111 Cedar Road North in Sonora. In Calaveras County, kits are offered to students at local high schools and the Calaveras Tobacco Prevention Program by calling 754-6460.