October is Healthy Lung Month — a month set aside for lung health awareness — and is recognized by the American Lung Association and several health advocacy organizations across the United States, a news release said.

The awareness campaign is designed to help educate the public about the importance of protecting their lungs against general neglect, bronchitis, mold, air pollution, and smoking.

As the Delta variant continues to spread, the Smoking Cessation Trust is encouraging Louisiana smokers to take this opportunity to “love your lungs” by quitting cigarettes and nicotine in all its forms, and encouraging friends and family members to quit, as well.

Evidence has shown that smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 and the delta variant, as they may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness.

“If infected by COVID-19, smokers can develop more complications and contribute significantly to the spread of the virus in the community,” says Juan J. Gershanik, physician and co-president of the Medical Association of Southeast Louisiana and medical director of West Jefferson Medical Center’s NICU. “That is why, in addition to wearing a mask, social distance and other precautions which decrease the chances of the spread, smokers are strongly encouraged to quit.”

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

Nearly 37 million Americans live with a chronic lung disease like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis — and smoking does not help.

“Quitting is hard,” says Mike Rogers, CEO of the Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services. “That’s why we’re taking the opportunity of Healthy Lung Month to remind people of the damaging effects of smoking and to encourage them to protect their lungs from nicotine and other carcinogens and general pollutants. We want everyone, especially as we continue to battle COVID-19, to try their best to quit and to lead healthier lives.”

The American Lung Association said to help keep lungs healthy, one should not smoke, prevent infection, minimize exposure to air pollution, get regular checkups and exercise. For details, visit www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/protecting-your-lungs.

“We are committed to helping Louisiana smokers quit with the help of the Trust’s free products and services, and hope that many will decide that October’s ‘Healthy Lung Month’ will be the ideal time to begin their journey to quitting. With one year left to this free cessation program which began in 2012, we also encourage our members, and all smokers across Louisiana, to quit nicotine in all its forms,” Rogers said.

For information, tips to apply for the free products, and services provided by the Louisiana Smoking Cessation Trust, or to find a cessation provider in your area, visit www.smokefreela.org, call (504) 529-5665 or (855) 259-6346.