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Ketchikan has revitalized and built infrastructure that other communities envy.

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11/22/2013
Personal health

We cannot depend on the government to take care of all our health care.

Nor should we; it is a personal responsibility, which is increasingly becoming the case. We need to do our part to stay healthy.

Today we encourage the smokers who quit smoking on Thursday for the Great American Smokeout. Already your heart rate and blood pressure are lower, and the carbon monoxide level in your blood has dropped.

Over the next two weeks to three months, according to medical sources, a person who quit smoking Thursday will see an improvement in circulation and lung function. It takes between a month and nine months for coughing and shortness of breath to subside. The lungs begin to regain normal function and the risk of infection declines.

A year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease becomes half of that of a continuing smoker, and 15 years after quitting, the risk of that disease is only the same as a non-smoker.

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and preventable death, according to the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. One out of every five people smoke, according to SEARHC. The effects of smoking in the long term are painful and expensive, not only for a smoker, but for family and friends of a smoker. The smoke also fouls the air.

If there is any one step one out of every five Americans can do to help address the health care issue, that is quit smoking. The other four might consider ways to improve their health, too.

We have to take charge of our health and adopt healthy lifestyles as much as possible. Because clearly someone has to pay the costs that come with health care, and the government cannot and will not do that for all. Even then, the money it spends on health care comes from taxpayers, which brings the solution back to the people again. We must promote healthy habits or pay for unhealthy ones.