Great American Smokeout | VideoAmy Fox | 11/15/2012
A line of people make their way to the checkout at Minot`s Stop and Shop convenience store to purchase one of the most popular items: tobacco products.
"I would say by now I`m addicted,” said sssistant manager Nicole Solar. “It`s nothing, it`s the habit."
While 20 percent of North Dakotans smoke, many are looking to programs like the Great American Smokeout to help them kick the habit.
"If people can just do it for one day, then maybe the second day they want to do it. Then they`ll do it so forth," said First District Health Unit Tobacco Prevention Supervisor Renae Byre.
But, for smokers like Solar, it’s not that easy.
"One day I want to, but right now I`m not ready,” she said. “I think you have to be in that mind set to actually want to quit."
Back in high school, Solar says she gave into peer pressure and like many teens started smoking.
"Back then, I think a lot of it was just the mindset of you`re cool if you smoke."
Byre said, "Youth want to fit in. They want to do what the norm is."
But, there are ways to prevent teens from picking up the habit.
"We know the smoke free environment works, so this is just one step, you know, the less kids see smoking in the community, the less they`re going to think this is what grown ups do," explains Holly Brekhus, First District Health Unit Community Outreach Coordinator.
If you buy a pack of cigarettes in North Dakota, you`re only going to pay about 44 cents in tax, which is one of the lowest in the country. But, if you`re addicted, price doesn`t matter. But, if some non-smokers have it their way, they could pass legislation that would change that.
"When you increase the price, you`re also decreasing the amount of youth that are initiating,” said Byre. “So we really need to move forward on that."
There hasn`t been an increase in the tax on cigarettes in North Dakota since the 90s, but many are looking to the changes Measure 4 will bring next month.
Solar said, "I will probably cut down a little bit, honestly, especially like a bar type situation in the winter. I don`t want to be out there freezing just for a cigarette."
The Great American Smoke Out is just the start of entire process for smokers, but Byre looks forward to a healthier North Dakota.
First District Health in Minot offers a kick start program on the last Thursday of every month to help people quit using tobacco.
For information about the program, call 837-5171.