10/15/2012-An article by Tobacco Free Missouri’s Stan Cowan recently appeared in the Missouri Municipal Review. Providing straightforward evidence, Cowan debunks the dire predictions made by opponents of Jefferson City’s smokefree ordinance. Not only did indoor air quality improve dramatically, but economic growth in the restaurant and bar sector remained strong, and charitable earnings from bingo halls in Jefferson City nearly doubled after the ordinance went into effect.
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10/8/2012-In October, Show-Me PALS is sponsoring a “Don’t Let Big Tobacco Trick You, Treat Yourself to Good Health” contest. Winners of the contest, which will be announced in early November, will be teams that best represent the theme. To assist groups in planning for the contest, Show-Me PALS, or People Advocating Living Smoke-free, have created a packet containing a step-by-step guide to planning fun, educational activities youth can do to promote a smokefree environment.
In Missouri, youth smoking is a significant problem. More than 450,000 of today’s youth are expected to become smokers. The rate of youth smoking in Missouri in 2011 was 18 percent – almost as high as the adult smoking rate of 21 percent. However, when other forms of tobacco are factored in, the youth rate jumps to 27 percent. Youth advocacy for tobacco control is essential for preventing youth from picking up a dangerous habit.
“As Show-Me PALS, we are constantly looking for opportunities to get the word out about the dangers of tobacco and how tobacco companies are targeting youth,” said Show-Me PALS president, Madison Kellums of Southland C-9 High School in Cardwell. “Since Halloween is a holiday for kids, I can’t think of a better time to get these messages out. This will give us access not only to children, but to their parents as well. I’m excited to see the turn out of our events. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reach out to the community and possibly change lives.” Other community youth leaders coordinating this event are Alyssa Bradley of New Bloomfield R-III, Alex Higginbotham of Odessa R-VII, Nick Wright of North Shellby, and Daniel Giuffra representing Casa de Salud in St. Louis.
While trick-or-treating, participating youth are asked to inform adults about the “tricks” tobacco companies use every day to promote smoking among kids. Information in the packet includes how tobacco companies add candy flavor to their tobacco products so it will appeal to youth, or how the tobacco industry is making new tobacco products that look like tick tacks and gum so young kids will want to try it.
Five prizes will be awarded to any youth group grades 8-12. Prizes will consist of educational resources that can be used in their communities for other events.
For more information on how your school\youth team can become involved, contact Joyce Lara, Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT SHOW-ME PALS: Show-Me PALS is a group of teens from around Missouri that were chosen as a leadership team for the youth-led movement in Missouri called Students with a Goal (SWAG). Show-Me PALS was developed from the 2007 CDC’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs and the CDC’s Youth Engagement guide for state and community interventions. The Show-Me Pals take youth empowerment to another level by letting the youth themselves design and implement activities, events and educational sessions In a youth to youth forum.
Tobacco Free Missouri’s Kevin Everett, PhD, and Jane McElroy, PhD, of the University of Missouri’s Department of Family & Community Medicine were recently featured on KBIA’s Health and Wealth Segment. McElroy and Everett have conducted groundbreaking research on smoking behavior in the LGBT community. Through diligent data collection at Pride Fests around Missouri, they have surveyed around 10,000 people since 2008. Prior to their research, there was little hard data on LGBT smoking rates, but their work has revealed the rate to be a shocking two to three times higher than the general population. McElroy and Everett attribute the higher rates to tobacco company marketing tactics targeting LGBT, and to the increased stress the population endures due to discrimination. Their research continues and we await more insights in the months to come.
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