With more smokers in Nye County than that of the state average according to a recent health study, curbing those numbers starts with early education.
Nye has an adult smoking rate of 26 percent, above the state average of 21 percent, which was part of the health behaviors section, in which Nye ranked 15 out of 16 counties in Nevada.
The numbers are comprised of numbers from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System provided by the Center of Disease Control. The percentage of adults included in the smoking percentage are ones that have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for 480,000 deaths each year, 41,000 of which are due to exposure from secondhand smoke.
In addition, $131 billion is spent annually treating tobacco-related illness, according to the American Cancer Society.
Desert View Hospital CEO Kelly Adams concurred with the study’s findings, stating the hospital sees its fair share of patients with smoking-related issues.
“We do see a lot of respiratory issues. We see a great deal of cardiac issues and a large majority of those patients are smokers,” Adams said. “There seems to be an underlying issue there.”
Looking to be a catalyst in the community, Desert View is enacting a smoking ban on June 1 at the main hospital campus, and all the clinics under their umbrella.
“Desert View Hospital as leader in health care we want to lead out and set the tone,” Adams said. “We think it’s important that we promote good health.”
Educating children about the dangers of smoking is key to preventing them from becoming adult smokers.
NyE Communities Coalition offers several programs throughout the year on smoking education, like taking part in the national Kick Butts Day that took place in March.
The purpose was to get local teens involved in cleaning up discarded cigarette butts that were littered about Ian Deutch Memorial Park, to give a picture.
“If we take all of the cigarette butts we collect today and we present it to the town, we usually can get signs up saying, ‘no tobacco use in the park around the playgrounds,’ as we have in the past,” said Sierra McKillips, youth advisor for NyE Communities Coalition. “Just encouraging parents to keep secondhand smoke away from kids.”
Programs like that are a good start to help prevent teens turning into adult smokers, but as is the case in most instances, the best encouragement starts at home.
Heading the list of what kids smoke is having a parent that smokes, according to the American Lung Association. That is followed by peer pressure, doing so in a rebellious act, thinking that everyone else is doing it and tobacco advertising.
Around 70 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 18, with most of them trying their first cigarette around age 11, the American Lung Association said on its website. By the time they turn 14, they’re already addicted to smoking.
The 2015 County Health Rankings, released last month by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, ranked Nye County last in the state based on 30 factors.