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Coalition promotes smoking cessation

Rita Finney, Region IV Drug and Alcohol Youth Prevention Services and MTFC board member, gets giveaway prizes and important information ready during the Great American Smokeout.

By L.A. Story


The Alcorn and Tippah County Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition recently joined forces with Magnolia Regional Health Center for the 43rd Annual Great American Smokeout.

The local MTFC set up a table in the cafeteria at Magnolia Regional Health Center to give away prizes and valuable information to encourage smokers who plan to kick the habit.

"For anyone that smokes you know that quitting smoking isn't easy. It takes time and a plan. You don't have to stop smoking in one day, but you can start in one day," said Stacy Brooks, Alcorn County MTFC Project Director. "Our hope was that smokers would let Great American Smokeout day be their day to start their journey toward a whole new smoke free lifestyle."

Brooks said she was aided by Rita Finney, Region IV Drug and Alcohol Youth Prevention Services, and Beth Woodruff, Magnolia Regional Health Center Wellness Department, and Mary Dilworth, all of whom are MTFC board members. The MTFC partnered with hospital last week for the GASO.

"We gave away 'quit kits' to help the smoker stop smoking and brochures about second hand smoke, tobacco, diabetes and the health effects of tobacco," said Brooks. "We also had pens, stadium blankets and water bottles to give away."

The MTFC also provided information on a resource for those wanting to quit smoke - the Mississippi Quitline.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. And more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. While the cigarette smoking rate has dropped significantly, from 42% in 1965 to 14% in 2017, the gains have been inconsistent.

The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew from a 1970 event in Randolph, Mass., at which Arthur P. Mullaney 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.

In 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state's first D-Day, or Don't Smoke Day.

The idea caught on, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first official Smokeout, and the American Cancer Society took it nationwide in 1977.

Locally, the MTFC of Alcorn and Tippah Counties is funded through a grant by the Mississippi Department of Health of Tobacco Control.

(For area support to help quit smoking, call 1-800-QUITNOW or 1-800-784-8669 or visit online at quitlinems.com.)