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Get serious about quitting smoking, Crawford County

The Jan. 30 article detailing high substance abuse rates in Crawford County should prompt responses from the community.

High substance abuse rates start with high tobacco-use rates. Teenage daily smokers are 14 times more likely to binge on alcohol, 100 times more likely to use marijuana at least 10 times, and 32 times more likely to have used cocaine at least 10 times.

Reducing high tobacco use must involve multiple strategies that require adults at all levels to get involved, not just health education teachers.

If Crawford County decides to take a hard look at reducing all substance abuse, key decision-makers need to consider the following:

The Crawford County School Corp. needs to pass a policy requiring all school campus grounds to be 100-percent tobacco-free 24/7 for all students, faculty and visitors. Teachers should support this, not fight it. School board members should realize the impact that this policy would have on students. All Harrison County, Perry County and Washington County school districts have a 100-percent tobacco-free policy. Springs Valley also has a 100-percent tobacco-free policy.

Every health care provider nurses, dentists, mental health counselors, dental hygienists and, of course, doctors should promote quitting for their patients who smoke. The Indiana Tobacco Quitline is a totally free service for all Hoosier adult smokers. Callers who are eligible can receive a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches or gum while the supply lasts. Just call 1-800-Quit Now. That's 1-800-784-8669.

Employers need to consider policies that strongly support quitting smoking. They can pass policies to require all indoor areas to be 100-percent smoke-free.

Secondly, employers should consider the large return on investment they will reap by promoting quitting among their employees, as well as the impact this has on prevention among employee's children. When one parent quits smoking by the time their child is 8 or 9 years old, they reduce the chance that their child will smoke by 25 percent. If both parents quit smoking, the rate for reducing smoking by their children increases to 40 percent.

Parents need to get serious about their own tobacco addiction. Let your child know just how addictive tobacco products are and how much you are trying to quit. Even if you have not quit yet, cut back. Make your house and your car 100-percent smoke-free. It protects your children from the deadly toxins in secondhand smoke and helps you quit. Only choose 100 percent smoke-free restaurants when you eat out.

Of course, we need to keep up the prevention education in our classrooms. But don't just talk about the health effect of smoking. Talk about how big advertising budgets of the tobacco companies hire and dupe young people into a smoking addition that will last years.

Tobacco is more addictive than heroine and cocaine use. By taking a larger community approach to helping smokers quit and providing positive role modeling for young people, Crawford County can reduce substance abuse rates.

Missy Stroud, Crawford Co. Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Project Mgr.
March 12, 2008

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