Vicki Barron: A winnable battle

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To the editor:

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 die each year from smoking in the state of Colorado alone. And of current Colorado youth who are under the age of 18, 92,000 will die prematurely from smoking. And 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.

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. And 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 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 you’re a tobacco user or not, we can all take part in the Great American Smokeout.

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, call Vicki Barron at 875-1883 or email her at vbarron@nwcovna.org.

Vicki Barron, community health educator

Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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