Great American Smokeout trying to get people to quit smoking and vaping

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Thursday is the ‘Great American Smokeout.’ It's a push by the American Cancer Society to get people to quit smoking.

In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 photo, a woman using an electronic cigarette exhales in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The American Cancer Society says more than 34 million Americans smoke cigarettes. It kills more than 480,000 people per year.

Some doctors are now putting a focus this year on getting people to stop vaping.

Pulmonologist Dr. Abhishek Kumar with Mercy Pulmonology Clinic in Cedar Rapids says they have had three vaping related illnesses. Cigarette smoking has declined, but there's been a big increase of people vaping, especially with teens.

Kumar says some kids have a perception that e-cigs are not as harmful as regular cigarettes. They have carcinogens in them.

Some other side effects of vaping may take years to find out.

E-cigs also have nicotine in them just like cigarettes. Nicotine is addicting.

"It is globally known as one of the most addictive things,” Kumar said. “In most cases, it's more difficult than giving up a hard drug."

Dr. Kumar quitting starts with people making that decision to want to quit. A lot of it is taking the initiative. A good support system of family, friends, and replacement therapy like a nicotine patch or nicotine gum can help. Going Cold Turkey is another option which he says works best because it makes people persistent.

"Some people who don't quit, they actually set a quit date again,” he said. “So most of the time on an average, they set four to five quit dates cold turkey, and they get off the smoking.”

Doctors at Mercy warn patients about the risk of smoking.

There are other hospitals offering services, as well. UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids has a tobacco specialist there works one on one with patients. To schedule an appointment with Mary Jo Henry, call (319) 363-3565.

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has a tobacco treatment program that works with cancer patients to get them to quit.