New Tobacco Cessation Effort Aims to Transform Saint Louis into a Smoke-Free Community
(Saint Louis County Department of Health Issues Call to Residents: “Let's Face It”)
(December 30, 2010) With the start of the new year, the Saint Louis County Department of Health (DOH) is calling on residents and businesses to come together to face the challenge of tobacco head-on. A new “Let’s Face It” initiative will help people quit using tobacco, keep youth from taking up tobacco in the first place, and help spread the word about the benefits of going smoke-free.
“I am proud to live in a community that is so committed to addressing the challenge of tobacco,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of County Health Department. “I think we can all agree that when our residents enjoy the healthiest, best quality of life possible – and there are policies and attitudes in place that support – we all benefit.”
To kick off the “Let’s Face It” initiative and celebrate the county’s new Clean Indoor Air Law, residents, business owners, and local officials are gathering at two locations on January 2nd: the Post Sports Bar & Grill in Maplewood and Applebee’s in Creve Coeur.
From 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Applebee’s, the Bergman family will join other families to dine in a truly family-friendly environment. The Bergman’s two high-school age daughters, Haley and Anna, are members of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT). One year ago, they participated in a “sit-in” event at this same Applebee’s, when SWAT kids filled the entire smoking section, providing patrons with a smoke-free atmosphere for several hours. Starting Sunday, diners will be able to enjoy that benefit every day.
From 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., residents are invited to celebrate with Post owner Adrian Glass, outgoing County Council Chairwoman Barbara Fraser, and DOH Communities Putting Prevention to Work Project Manager Barry Freedman – all of whom believe Saint Louis is taking a significant step toward becoming a better place to live, work, and play.
The new law, approved by Saint Louis County voters in 2009, goes into effect on January 2nd. With its enactment, Saint Louis joins more than 3,000 municipalities in the U.S. with local laws limiting where smoking is allowed. The Saint Louis region is one of the worst in the nation for asthma and Missouri has one of the highest death rates from tobacco-related illnesses in the country. Missouri ranks 48th in funding for programs to help smokers quit and to keep kids from taking up smoking. Additionally, Missouri’s 17 cents-per-pack cigarette tax is the lowest in the nation (the national per-pack average cigarette tax is $1.45).
“What’s important in the face of these sobering statistics is that we’re making a commitment to change,” said Dr. Gunn. “We aren’t just asking smokers to quit. We are asking the entire community to get involved in helping Saint Louis fulfill its promise of being a place that’s healthy and vibrant.”
Adrian Glass, owner of the Post Sports Bar and Grill, is excited about what the new Clean Indoor Air Law will mean for his patrons. Said Glass, “I’m looking forward to the implementation of the smoke-free ordinance. I don’t believe our business will be negatively affected. In fact, based on my experience in other smoke-free communities, I think we’ll see the community really embrace a smoke-free environment.”
Added Glass, “Second-hand smoke is a serious health concern for me and my employees. We are grateful that we’ll no longer be exposed to it seven days a week.”
The “Let’s Face It” initiative will be a sustained community-wide effort to
Provide resources, tools, and encouragement to those who want to quit.
Provide further education about second-hand smoke, and why it is so important to minimize exposure. There is no risk-free level of second-hand smoke.
Engage residents and businesses to act as positive forces in moving toward a smoke-free environment.
Initial elements of the campaign are already appearing around the community. Residents who are out and about on New Year’s Eve may find their glass resting on a coaster with information about the “Let’s Face It” initiative and quitting smoking through the Missouri Tobacco Quitline. Additionally, the initiative has launched a new website:
About Let’s Face It
Let’s Face It is an initiative of the Saint Louis County Department of Health (DOH). It is funded by a Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Let’s Face It’s primary goal is to inspire the people of Saint Louis to face the challenges of tobacco together. The program represents a long-term commitment by DOH to make the community a better place to live, work, and play – by making it smoke-free. This helps to achieve DOH’s vision of giving everyone in Saint Louis the opportunity to live the fullest, healthiest life possible. More information can be found at www.letsfaceitstl.com