Long Islanders Urged To Clear The Air: Great American Smokeout Is Thursday, November 15th
Sure, this is the land of governance by smoke and mirrors; where "approval" of government dysfunction means that more than 80% of registered voters don't bother to come out to the polls (the number is actually greater than that, when you include eligible -- but not registered -- voters).
What could be worse?
For one thing, second hand smoke and mirrors.
Bad enough we have to pay higher health insurance premiums to care for the folks who destroy their own bodies with tar and nicotine. [And 100% of the health insurance premiums of part-time government workers who pull down full-time benefits.] We have to breathe in their poisonous, stale air, as well.
What will it take to get LIers off their butts? [Heaven only knows. Certainly, we've tried!]
On Thursday, November 15th, we get to fight back against the ravages of tobacco -- if not the wrath of the smoker -- as Long Islanders are encouraged to participate in the annual event (can't we at least make it an entire month, like Breast Cancer Awareness or Black History?) known as The Great American Smokeout.
Here's some basic information from the American Cancer Society, and a few links to help you "kick the habit" -- and clear the air.
You take care of the smoke, Long Island, and we at The Community Alliance will continue to work on cleaning those mirrors!
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About The Great American Smokeout
On November 15, 2007, the American Cancer Society marks the 31st annual Great American Smokeout, nationally recognized as a platform to educate the public on the dangers associated with tobacco use and to encourage smokers to quit for a lifetime by starting with just one day.
In the Beginning
The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew out of a 1974 event when Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state's first D-Day, or Don't Smoke Day. Previously, in 1971, Arthur P. Mullaney of Randolph, Massachusetts, had asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. The idea caught on, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society succeeded in getting nearly one million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first Great American Smokeout, which went nationwide in 1977.
Some of America's most popular celebrities joined the cause as event chairs, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Edward Asner, Natalie Cole, Larry Hagman, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Christy Turlington, and "spokespud" Mr. Potato Head, who gave up his pipe for the cause.
The Smokeout has been celebrated with rallies, parades, the distribution of quitting information, and even "cold turkey" menu items in schools, workplaces, military installations, and legislative halls throughout the US.
The Great American Smokeout Today
Now that many more Americans understand the dangers associated with tobacco use, cigarette smoking among adults aged 18 and older has declined by nearly half between 1965 and 2005 - from 42% to 21%. An estimated 45 million adults are now former smokers, and per-capita cigarette consumption is currently lower than at any point since the start of World War II. Nonetheless, roughly 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 teenagers in the U.S. are current smokers, and lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer among men and women. This year alone, approximately 213,380 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the US, and an estimated 160,390 people will die from the disease. Smoking is also associated with increased risk for cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, bladder, pancreas, and cervix and has more recently been associated with colorectal cancer, myeloid leukemia, as well as cancers of the liver, stomach, and nasal sinuses. Smoking is also a major cause of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
Statistics illustrate what battles still must be fought, but we have won many important victories. In 1977, Berkeley, California, became the first community to limit smoking in restaurants and other public places. A federal smoking ban on all interstate buses and domestic flights of six hours or less was passed in 1990. And in 1999, the Department of Justice filed suit against cigarette manufacturers, charging the industry with defrauding the public by lying about the risks of smoking.
Also in 1999, the landmark Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was passed, requiring tobacco companies to pay $206 billion to 45 states by the year 2025 to cover Medicaid costs for treating smokers. The MSA also closed the Tobacco Institute and ended cartoon advertising and tobacco billboards. In 2001, the Philip Morris Companies officially apologized for a study commissioned by an international affiliate that concluded the Czech Republic benefited financially from the premature deaths of smokers.
The Future of the Great American Smokeout
Although there has been great progress, there is much more to accomplish to significantly reduce tobacco-related cancer diagnoses and deaths. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society, yet there have been 12 million premature deaths attributable to smoking in the United States. Importantly, smoking prevalence varies by race and ethnicity, with American Indian/Alaska Native men and women having the highest rates (40.5% and 40.9%, respectively). Youth smoking prevalence in the US still remains high; in 2005, 23 percent of US high school students were smokers. In the absence of intervention, studies show that most adolescent smokers continue smoking as adults. To make the greatest impact on lung cancer in the shortest amount of time, the American Cancer Society will capitalize on three key areas of opportunity moving forward: influencing policy makers to increase the number of people who live and work in smoke-free environments; working to secure increased tobacco taxes and appropriations for comprehensive tobacco control programs; and increasing the number of smokers who have access to high quality, paid smoking cessation counseling and medications. Leveraging the brand recognition the Society has built for the last 31 years for this event, the Great American Smokeout provides a powerful media platform to help further our work in these areas.
For more information about how to get involved in the Great American Smokeout and to learn about tobacco cessation strategies, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.
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Links to help you save your life, save your money, and tell Big Tobacco where they can stick it:
Quit Smoking, New York
How To Quit Smoking -- And Quit For Keeps
NYS Department of Health
NorthShoreLIJ Center for Tobacco Control
Kate Murray's Helpline [NOTE: Kontacting Kate won't help you stop smoking. In fact, the Surgeon General warns that dealing with the Town of Hempstead will leave you fuming, and may lead to the use and abuse of hard core drugs, or even suicide (if you're lucky). Still, you can yell at Kate, or send her a wickedly insightful online message, which should make you feel better, anyway!]
Suffolk County Health Services
he New York State Smokers' Quitline 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487)