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Your Opinion: Smoke-free effort praised; cessation programs listed

Your Opinion: Smoke-free effort praised; cessation programs listed

March 20th, 2011 by Katherine Friedebach, MD, medical director, Community Health Center of Central Missouri in News

Dear Editor:

In spite of Missouri flunking all categories in the recent American Lung Association's report, "State of Tobacco Control 2010," there is a silver lining for our state - Jefferson City.

Prior to November, Jefferson City was one of only seven capital cities in the nation without a smoke-free ordinance. Fortunately, the haze has now lifted and we have a beautiful smokefree city!

As we experience the changes this ordinance brings, it is an important time to reach out to smokers in our community. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Missouri has the sixth highest tobacco use rate with 23.1 percent of citizens lighting up.

The Surgeon General's report says it is "the most important step (you) can take to improve (your) health." No one is saying it is easy, just worth it.

Some skeptical smokers tell me that they feel everything is blamed on smoking. Although when you consider tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and your blood stream carries various poisons to all parts of your body, it becomes more understandable how it has such widespread and varied consequences. Put simply, there is absolutely no level of exposure that is safe for a smoker or those around them.

So let's seize the opportunity to talk about smoking cessation, share tips and pat on the back. For those thinking about quitting or trying to quit, there are many resources available. Web sites such as smokefree.gov, familydoctor. org and cdc.gov/tobacco provide general information, as well as links to other organizations. Speaking with your family physician is another great place to get support, encouragement and, when indicated, prescription medications to help. For smokers who don't have access to the Internet, 1-800-QUIT-NOW is a free, phonebased service with educational materials and coaches who can help smokers quit. If you tried to quit and started again, remember many people try more than once before they quit for good.

Once again, congratulations Jefferson City on protecting our children, co-workers, family and friends from second-hand smoke. Please join me in encouraging smokers in Missouri to make the same decision for themselves and make 2011 the year to quit!