Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
June 09, 2005
What Missouri governor Matt Blunt calls "an effective tool" currently is available for Missourians who want to quit smoking and quit using other forms of tobacco. 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) directs callers to a bank of "tobacco specialists" who offer free counseling and referral. The service is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week. Special provisions for extended counseling is available to pregnant women, Medicaid recipients and the uninsured.

"We have quite a few people here manning the phones," one specialist said. We can take credit for getting thousands of people to quit using tobacco products, she added. All counseling is tailored to an individual's needs.

The tobacco cessation specialists have bachelor's degrees in health education, counseling or a related field and are nonsmokers or former smokers who have not used tobacco in at least two years. They are experienced in telephone counseling, one-on-one interviewing and behavior change.

"Two-thirds of tobacco-users in Missouri have told us they would like to quit. Now we are giving them a tool to help," Blunt said."This is a step in the right direction in Missouri's tobacco-cessation efforts."

There are three levels of assistance offered in both English and Spanish. Individuals will be offered a set of materials to assist them in quitting, friends and family may request written materials to help them talk effectively about tobacco cessation issues, and health care professionals can call to request oral or written information about the service and/or proper use and dosing of nicotine replacement therapy.

The quitline service provided by Free & Clear, Inc. is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Provention.

The Governor recommended in his fiscal year 2006 budget that $875,000 of the proceeds from a settlement reached with several of the smaller tobacco companies be used to institute new youth tobacco prevention programs. However, this proposal was not included in the final budget passed by the General Assembly.

"Missouri has lagged behind most of the nation during the past few years in putting resources into reducing tobacco use. In fact, Missouri ranks among the bottom in state spending for tobacco prevention," the governor's office admitted.

While 9 states have earmarked 50% or more of their tobacco settlement monies toward tobacco prevention programs, according to recent statistics gathered by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Missouri joins Tennessee, Michigan, New Hampshire and South Carolina as states that are committing no tobacco settlement or tobacco tax money for prevention programs. The D.C. organization reports that "the tobacco companies spend more on marketing in a single day – at least $34 million – than 46 states and the District of Columbia spend in an entire year on tobacco prevention. Tobacco companies spend more in a single hour – $1.4 million – than nine states and D.C. spend on tobacco prevention annually."

The most promising “replacement smokers” to the 5,000 customers tobacco companies lose every day in the U.S.--including 3,500 who manage to quit and about 1,200 who die-- are young people — 90% of smokers begin before they're 21, and 60% before they're 14, according to statistics filed by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Now I'm a fella with a heart of gold

With the ways of a gentleman, I've been told

A kind of fellar that wouldn't even harm a flea

But if me and a certain character met

That guy that invented the cigarette

I'd murder that son of a gun in the first degree.....


Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette.

Puff, puff, puff and if you smoke yourself to death

Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate

That you hates to make him wait.

You've just gotta have another cigarette.

"Tex" Williams wrote the song with Merle Travis in 1946 and it eventually became a Capitol Records' first million seller. According to an article in the New York Times (Oct. 13, 1985) quoting Williams' daughter, Williams died after a year-long battle with cancer...he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, dropping to about a pack a day before he died. He tried to quit, but he couldn't.

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