Friday, November 12, 2004
If health reasons aren't enough to motivate people to quit using tobacco products, two upcoming events could provide smokers and smokeless tobacco users with added incentives for kicking their habits.
Judy Hiester, coordinator of the Northwest Colorado Tobacco Prevention Program, said the passage of Amendment 35 and next week's Great American Smokeout Day are two great reasons for people to take the first steps toward quitting.
Amendment 35, approved by voters last week, will increase the cost of cigarettes by 64 cents a pack beginning Jan. 1. Taxes on smokeless tobacco products will increase 20 percent, in accordance with the amendment.
For someone who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day, the tax will increase the price of smoking by about $235 a year, Hiester said.
"We're excited about the passage of Amendment 35," Hiester said. "The more expensive cigarettes become, the less likely people are to start smoking." She also hopes the amendment will provide more money for state tobacco prevention programs.
The 27th annual Great American Smokeout, scheduled for Thursday, is a national event that encourages tobacco users to quit for a day in the hope they may quit for good. About 350 "quit kits" will be assembled and distributed to Routt County tobacco users who want to try quitting. The free kits, many of which will be assembled by Steamboat Springs Middle School students, include information about tobacco use and quitting, referrals to free cessation-aid services, such as the Colorado QuitLine, and stress relievers such as gum and stress balls.
The kits will be available from Thursday to Nov. 30 at the Hayden Mercantile, the Clark Store, Ace at the Curve, City Market, Safeway, Bonfiglio Drug and the Yampa Public Library.
Hiester said tobacco users who take advantage of services such as Colorado QuitLine and Colorado QuitNet to help in their cessation efforts are nine times more likely to be successful than if they try to quit on their own.
"The best way to quit is with help, yet very few people in Routt County are taking advantage of the free telephone counseling service," Hiester said. "It's been proven that the people who use it are more successful."
About 2,500 Routt County residents smoke or chew tobacco, but only 14 area residents have taken advantage of either of those free programs this year, she said.
For more information about the Great American Smokeout or other tobacco cessation programs, call Hiester at 879-1632.
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