Vicki Barron: A winnable battle

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This Thursday is the 36th annual Great American Smokeout, bringing attention to the personal battle that so many tobacco users deal with every day. Hopefully, this year they will take this day to avoid using tobacco and maybe even make this the first day of a tobacco-free life.

Most adult tobacco users wish that they had never started using tobacco. And what if they hadn’t? According to the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 4,300 people in Colorado die each year from smoking. And of current Colorado youths who are under age 18, 92,000 will die prematurely from smoking. We are all affected by the ravages of tobacco and should take action to prevent a new generation of tobacco users. Each year, the negative impact of smoking costs every single Colorado household $579. And this is every household, not just those that have tobacco users in them.

Lots of news has come from the deadly world of tobacco this year, and the battle against tobacco is gaining momentum. Recently in Colorado, the test marketing of dissolvable tobacco products has led tobacco control advocates to launch a campaign to have these products removed from our marketplace and push for local licensing of tobacco retailers. Nationally, four U.S. senators are leading an initiative to ban tobacco during Major League Baseball games, and the National Prevention Strategy — America’s Plan for Better Health and Wellness — named “tobacco-free living” a priority for improving the health and lives of Americans.

Why all the fuss? Because tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in our country, and because preventing kids from ever starting to use tobacco will save lives, improve quality of life and decrease the heavy burden that tobacco use places on our health care industry.

If you or someone you know uses tobacco, take steps now to quit. And whether or not you’re a tobacco user, we can all take part in the Great American Smokeout. If you know someone who has never used tobacco, encourage them to stay tobacco-free. Become a tobacco control advocate to protect yourself, our youths and our community from this deadly, addictive substance.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website, www.myquitpath.org, offers different “quit paths” for smokers and smokeless tobacco users and has resources for raising smoke-free kids. For more information, contact Vicki Barron at 970-875-1883 or vbarron@nwcovna.org.

Vicki Barron

Community health educator, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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