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Great American Smokeout scheduled for Thursday

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The push is on to help bring awareness to the benefits of stopping tobacco in preparation of the Great American Smokeout Thursday.

"November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month," American Cancer Society Clay County Community Representative Rachel Romas said recently. "And, in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, this is a great time for people who smoke to consider quitting and for non-smokers to encourage smokers to quit."

The idea for the Great American Smokeout began in the early 70s with Lynn Smith, publisher of the Monticello Times of Minnesota. Smith's idea "D Day" was to encourage people to take the day off from smoking cigarettes and donate the equivalent money they would have spent to support local school programs.

The idea quickly caught on and circulated throughout the state until 1977, when it went nationwide under the sponsorship of the American Cancer Society. It traditionally takes place on the third Thursday in November.

Clay County Tobacco Coalition Director Kandace Brown recently presented the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Survey Research Center during a recent meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil.

Afterward, Brown asked the council to consider creating and passing an ordinance that would make indoor areas of businesses, restaurants, bars and private membership clubs smoke free, but allow for outdoor smoking areas.

"This is a public health issue, but it would not be an ordinance saying people are not allowed to smoke," Brown said.

According to information provided by the Indiana Rural Health Association, the attitude of Clay County residents could be in favor of such an ordinance.

Out of the 607 Clay County residents surveyed, with 409 residing in Brazil, 69 percent replied they were in favor of making all workplaces smoke-free. The results also indicated there was a strong awareness of the hazards of second-hand smoke, with 87 percent of the participants, 62 percent of which were current smokers, agreeing that all workers should be protected from the hazards of secondhand smoke.

Concern over a loss of business revenue was also addressed in the survey, which showed business may actually increase if establishments become smoke-free environments. Only 14 percent of the survey participants said they would go out less often if the ordinance were enacted, while 59 percent said it would not effect their decisions and 27 percent would actually go out more often (showing a net gain of 13 percent).

Although the council elected to table the matter in order to allow a complete ordinance to be created before considering it further during its December meeting, Romas was excited about the prospect of Clay County being in the forefront of creating healthier environments for its residents.

"ACS and ACS Cancer Action Network are both making a big push in Indiana this year to get the message out there for people who want to quit smoking," Romas said. "States with strong tobacco control laws are now reaping the benefits of their labor with markedly lower smoking rates and fewer people dying of cancer and cancer-related illnesses. Indiana is ready for a smoke-free environment."

For more information about the Great American Smokeout, American Cancer Society, and/or ACS CAN, log onto www.cancer.org.

To find information about a telephone "smoking quitline" in the area, dial 1-800-ACS-2345.

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