By Cindy Gunter
On November 15, 2007 the Knox County Smokebusters and Beyond celebrated the Great American Smoke Out with tobacco messages by students and a free raffle drawing for students and teachers. Students in each of the seven classes in the middle and high school buildings read tobacco facts over the intercom system. Students reading the messages included Megan Hunolt, Brett Bryant, Lorrie Peters, Emily See, Chelsea Bisch, Becca Mallett, and Brady James.
The free drawing included shirts, water bottles, sweatshirts, backpacks, and side packs. Both adults and Knox County students won them.
Recently the national cancer deaths by tobacco have been declining. However, Missouri's rate for smoking and smoking related diseases and deaths remain high for several reasons. Smokefree laws are not as prevalent in Missouri as they are in other parts of the country. Only 6% of Missourians reside in communities with smokefree ordinances. Another reason is that our excise tax on tobacco remains 2nd lowest in the U.S. at 17 cents/pack compared to the national average of $1.17 per pack. Another contributing factor is that the Center for Disease Control Best Practices recommends that Missouri budget $73.2 million, ($12.52 per capita) on tobacco control. Missouri actually only budgets $1.3 million, ($00.24 per capita).
Strong tobacco control programs save lives. Within ten years of California's state law requiring public places, including restaurants and bars, to be smoke-free, plus an increase in their tobacco excise tax, while providing cessation assistance and or counter marketing, the incidence of lung cancer declined by 14% while the remainder of the country decreased only 2.7%.
Currently, Missouri ranks the 6th worst in the nation for smoking-related deaths. Knox County Smokebusters and Beyond encourages all smokers to join them in their efforts to reduce tobacco related deaths. Become a part of the "Great American Smoke Out". For more information on cessation programs in our area call on any Smokebuster or the Knox County Health Department at 660 397 3396.