Smoking continues to be the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world, causing about 1 in 5 deaths.

The 2017 Crow Wing County Community Health Survey found the local rate of tobacco use increased since the 2014 survey.

Quitting is hard. It takes time, patience and practice. Local businesses are creating initiatives to help support employees in their journey to quit.

At Consolidated Telecommunications Co., the Wellness Committee created a campaign called Break Another Bad Habit. Employees who chose to participate complete a personal contract that has them stating the following:

My bad habit that I am going to break is:____________________________________________

I intend to break this bad habit by doing the following:__________________________________

If I achieve this goal, my health will improve in the following ways:________________________

Employees turn in the contract to human resources, and have six months to achieve their goal. Although not reserved to quitting smoking, the program has helped two staff members successfully quit.

Crow Wing Energized's Healthy Communities Grant program has helped many local organizations initiate tobacco education efforts. Central Lakes College, the Cuyuna Range Youth Center, and Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Baxter were able to purchase carbon monoxide readers to support their tobacco reduction efforts for youths and adults.

By checking carbon monoxide levels, smokers can measure immediate benefits from quitting even for just a day.

Getting help through counseling and medications has proven to double or even triple the chance of quitting successfully. If you want to quit smoking, you don't need to do it alone. It may take more than one try to quit for good.

Certified tobacco treatment specialists can offer help. They'll create a personalized plan that fits your life and support you every step of the way. You'll get one-on-one help from a certified tobacco treatment specialist who can suggest medications proven to make quitting easier and provide research-based tips and advice to help you succeed.

Tobacco cessation services are covered at 100 percent by most health insurance plans. Call your local health care provider to make an appointment.

Your body after you quit

  • 20 minutes after quitting: Your blood pressure improves and the temperature of your hands and feet goes back to normal.
  • 8 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
  • 2 weeks to three months after quitting: Your blood circulation improves and your lung function increases up to 30 percent.
  • 1 year after quitting: Your risk for heart disease may be half that of a smoker.
  • 5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk can be close to that of a nonsmoker (this can take between five and 15 years).
  • 10 years after quitting: The risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas goes down.

How much money will you save?

Based on smoking a pack each day

(average price per pack in Minnesota equals $7.50)

• One month = $225,

• One year = $2,737.50,

• Five years = $13,687.50.