ST. CLOUD -- Thursday is the annual Great American Smokeout. CentraCare's Meghan Bown says they have professional help available for anyone who wants to kick the smoking habit today or any day.

She says certified tobacco treatment specialists use a combination of medication and counseling.

They have been trained to look specifically at combinations of medications and then counseling.  So they look at helping to identify your triggers and what might cause you to have the urge to use tobacco, looking at behavior patterns and how you can create new behavior patterns.

Bown says they are meeting with clients both in person and virtually right now. You can call 200-3200 and ask for an appointment.

Minnesota's Tobacco 21 law, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old, went into effect on August 1st. Ninety-five percent of addicted smokers start before age 21.

Bown says there is a concern that smokers are more susceptible to more severe symptoms if they get the coronavirus.

Whether it's a vape or convention cigarettes, they really are causing that inflammation in the lungs, and when you cause inflammation and irritation in the lungs, it really makes your body less able to fight off viruses.

Prior to this year, over 6,300 deaths in Minnesota each year were related to smoking. The annual excess health care cost in Minnesota is nearly $3.2 billion.

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