IBJOpinion

Smoking should be part of health reform

January 9, 2010
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IBJ Letters To The Editor

As Congress debates health care reform, it’s easy to lose sight of what we agree on—and what we know works to prevent disease and lower costs. Helping people quit smoking and keeping young people from starting are proven ways to reduce the awful toll of cancer, heart attacks and other serious illnesses caused by tobacco use, which remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and adds $96 billion to our health care costs every year.

I’m proud to live in Indiana, a state that has taken tobacco prevention seriously, and gotten some serious results. Through hard work and constant effort, our Indiana tobacco-prevention program has cut our high school student smoking rates dramatically. Unfortunately, we still have the second-highest rate of adult smoking in the country. And now, after years of progress against tobacco, the nation has stalled.

According to the latest government data, there’s been no reduction in the rate of adult smoking since 2004. To keep from falling backward, Congress must make funding for prevention programs a priority in health care reform. The Senate in particular must protect these funds as it debates reform in the coming weeks.

I work in VOICE, Indiana’s youth-led movement to curb smoking by teen-agers and combat the tobacco industry’s marketing messages that bombard us every day. Our work gives young people the tools to resist. For example, we tell kids as young as fourth and fifth grade that for what they might spend on cigarettes in a year, they could take a trip to Disney World. I’ve personally seen several of my classmates throw their chewing tobacco in the trash after a guest speaker explained its dangers.

Our youth smoking rates have dropped dramatically since Indiana started vigorously funding prevention. In 2000, almost a third of high school students smoked, but that’s dropped to about 18 percent. Calls to Indiana’s quit line have gone up by 600 percent over the past two years. Still, the tobacco industry spends $1 million every day in Indiana to market its products. Big Tobacco never takes a break, so neither should we.

Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans annually and costs billions in excess health costs and lost productivity. Across the nation, community-based prevention programs are educating young people about tobacco’s dangers and helping current smokers to quit. They deserve help from Congress and the health reform legislation is the proper place to provide it.

__________

Emily Kile
Senior, Greenfield Central High School
National Youth Advocate of the Year
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids



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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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