Tobacco-free living summit helping smokers put out the habit

West Monroe, La (KNOE 8 News) - A tobacco-free living summit was held in West Monroe this morning, where a panel of doctors and community leaders worked to help smokers break their habit.

Courtesy: KNOE

"It's a hard sell when you tell somebody, 'You know what, you should stop smoking and pick up a healthier habit... like exercise,'" says fitness instructor Cesar Camacho.

Camacho served on the diverse panel of doctors and community leaders at today's summit, put together by the Northeast Delta Regional Authority.

"These people have bigger fish to fry, and tobacco is the big fish," says organizer Jean Hertzog.

More than 36 million adults smoke in the United States. In Louisiana, nearly 25% of the population smokes.

Keynote speaker for the summit, Dr. Thomas Payne, says when it comes to quitting: the more aggressive the approach, the more effective the outcome.

"This is a life-taking disorder. It's something that kills more people than anything else we know from a prevention perspective," says Payne. "There's nothing that saves more lives than helping people quit smoking."

Payne says counseling and medication are the two proven ways to help people quit smoking. Or, like Camacho, smokers can pick up a more positive habit to take its place.

"You need to plan to replace that nicontine addiction or cigarette addiction with something healthier," says Camacho.

Though smoking has declined in the adult population, the habit still affects groups like young adults, men, and those who live below the poverty line.