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updated: 12/26/2012 11:03 AM

Kick the smoking habit for a happy and healthy new year

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--With the start of a New Year just ahead, now is the perfect time to resolve to improve your health in 2013 and quit smoking.

The DuPage County Health Department recommends that smokers call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline for help today. Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people can do to improve their health.

The start of the New Year also marks the fifth anniversary of the Smoke-free Illinois Act which protects everyone from the health risks associated with second-hand smoke exposure. Illinois enacted the strongest clean indoor air law in the country.

The landmark Smoke-free Illinois legislation prohibits smoking in all indoor public places and workplaces including bars and restaurants. Smoke-free laws improve public health and reduce the healthcare costs to treat people with smoking-related diseases. More than 30 states are now smoke-free.

These are just some of the benefits of Smoke-free Illinois:

• In 2008, 21.2 percent of Illinois adults smoked; that number dropped to 16.9 percent in 2012.

• According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), since Smoke- free Illinois went into effect, tobacco-related hospitalizations and healthcare costs have decreased substantially. In fact, hospitalizations for tobacco-related diseases are well below those in the two years prior to the Smoke-free Illinois Act.

• Heart disease hospitalizations have shown the greatest decline. It's estimated that more than 30,200 heart disease hospitalizations in Illinois have been prevented, which translates into an estimated savings of $1.18 billion in hospital costs alone; the average cost for heart disease admissions is nearly $39,000.

If you are a smoker, you can get healthier in 2013 and become part of Smoke-free Illinois by calling 1 (866) QUIT- YES (784-8937) to speak with a trained smoking cessation counselor. The Illinois Tobacco Quitline is a service of IDPH and the American Lung Association of Illinois.

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.