According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for 1 of every 5 deaths in the nation. That’s one reason why Darcy Ellefson, a registered respiratory therapist at Sanford Health, refers to smoking at the root of all health evils.
“There are all kinds of different lung diseases out there and ways of getting lung disease,” said Ellefson. “I think smoking probably comes to mind first because it’s the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Some of that can be genetic but most of that is brought on by cigarette smoking.”
Currently, about 18 percent of adults smoke in South Dakota and North Dakota, higher than the national rate of 15.1 percent. Those numbers are down from historic levels, but Ellefson worries about new trends including e-cigarettes and vaping.
“That use is on the rise,” said Ellefson. “I think people have a false sense of security with the electronic cigarettes that this is a healthier alternative. They’re so new out there that they don’t know everything there is to be known about them.”
You can learn more about smoking cessations programs and lung health in this podcast edition of “A Better You,” which airs Saturday on KSOO-AM.
Sanford Health is one of the largest health care systems in the nation, with 44 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and four countries.