Helping Teenagers Kick the Habit in Kentucky

RUSSELL, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Every morning, William Keaton is reminded he's a smoker before he even lights that first cigarette.

"I've been smoking since I was 5," Keaton said. "It's a bad habit. I wake up every morning, coughing and wheezing."

There are new changes with the new year. The Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line now allows people as young as age 15 to call and get help with quitting cigarettes and other tobacco products. The toll-free phone number is simple to remember: 1 (800) QUIT NOW.

It's a good news/bad news scenario. Overall, the numbers are down.

"The smoking and tobacco rate in the state has decreased," says Holly West, a health educator with the Ashland Boyd County Health Department. "However, among youth it's something we really need to focus on because it's going up."

The Kentucky Youth Tobacco Study shows in its most recent data from 2008 that smoking has gone up from 25 percent to 27 percent among teens.

William made his first call to the Kentucky Quit Line this week. He's cautiously optimistic.

"I just need someone to push me in the right direction," he said. "Basically, that's what I've always needed."

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