Jennings Death Raises Lung Cancer Awareness

Jennings Death Raises Lung Cancer Awareness
By: Carly O'Keefe

CARBONDALE, IL -- Following the death of TV news legend Peter Jennings Sunday, some smokers have begun to question their own unhealthy habit.
The American Lung Association manages two quit-assist hotlines out of Springfield . Officials say quite a large number of people called Monday, wanting to learn more about the risks of smoking and ways to quit.

"In many instances, people have referred to the loss of Peter Jennings, and the impact he's made in their lives over the years. I think it's stimulated an interest in improving their health by quitting tobacco,” said Lynda Preckwinkle of the American Lung Association.

For some, Jenning's death has sparked an interest in kicking the habit.

“It makes you think about it, I mean it can happen to anyone anytime,” said smoker Zach Heinz.

For others, it's just another cautionary tale.

"I've heard of people dying of lung cancer before him, so I knew the risks I was involving myself in-- now I'm hooked,” said smoker Joe Fishburn

“My dad died of emphysema, so it's already in my mind, but I plan on quitting someday,” said smoker Jason Ruffin.

According to the American Lung Association, an estimated 20-million Americans think about quitting smoking each year; only 30 to 40 percent of them try. Few succeed without help.

"The average person who tries to quit smoking quits four to six times before they're successful. It's a matter of realizing that the same thing that worked for your uncle or your cousin or your friend will not necessarily work for you. It's a matter of finding an individual plan that meets your needs,” Preckwinkle said.

There are many options available to help smokers quit. The American Lung Association, local hospitals and county health departments are a good place to start.

Addiction specialists say quitting “cold turkey” is not the best method. Smokers should find a way to adjust their lifestyles gradually.

For help quitting, call:

    • Illinois Tobacco Help Line: (866) QUIT-YES
    • American Lung Association: (800) 548-8252