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No butts at State Fair today

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

There is no question that young people learn much through their county fairs and the Indiana State Fair. A network of Hoosiers hope that today they will learn another lesson: smoking is hazardous to your health.

Today is the fourth annual tobacco free day at the Indiana State Fair. Special programs and activities have been planned by Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (ITPC), WhiteLies.tv and Voice. WhiteLies.tv and Voice are funded by ITPC.

The effort is working, said Beth Dougherty, an ITPC spokesperson.

"Indiana was ranked 5th in the nation and now we're 6th," she said Tuesday morning.

The ranking is according to the number of smokers in a given state. There are more adult smokers in Indiana (26 percent) than the national average, but there are now fewer high school smokers in Indiana than the national average (21 percent).

Dougherty attributes the good teenage record in large measure to the efforts of Voice, an organization that targets youth.

"The Voice hub works to empower youth to not use tobacco and to fight the influence of tobacco in media," said Kelly Trusty, the West Central Voices co-ordinator.

Lori Knight and the Clay County Health Department work locally to fight tobacco use.

The various organizations involved in influencing adults and young people to stamp out the weed are funded in part by the 1998 master settlement agreement with the tobacco companies, according to Dougherty. That money is given to the state and state officials then distribute money to various boards and organizations to fight tobacco use in Indiana.

One of the ways tobacco settlement money is used is to influence local communities to pass no smoking ordinances. Such efforts have been effective in Bloomington, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Dougherty said. However, not every community is ready to say, "No butts." Crawfordsville's city council passed a no smoking in public places ordinance but the mayor said he would veto the measure and the city council president said he would not ask for a vote to override the veto, the Journal Review reported Monday on its Web site.

When asked if she thought one no-smoking day at the State Fair would convince people to quit smoking, Dougherty hesitated and then said smokers would be encouraged to sign up for literature on how to quit.

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