Middle school pupils are invited to take part in an antitobacco letter-writing contest.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The American Cancer Society is asking smokers to put down their cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco or any tobacco product Thursday, the 25th anniversary of its Great American Smokeout.
Also, during the week, ACS is encouraging restaurants in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties to go entirely smoke-free for the day; and the East Liverpool Cancer Task Force has sent letters to all businesses in its area asking them to have their employees refrain from using tobacco in their workplace all day.
Trying to quit: During the one-day effort, ACS asks all tobacco users to refrain from their habit and attempt to quit.
"If someone can quit for a day, we believe with willpower, support and encouragement from others, they can quit forever," Al Stabilito, Mahoning Valley ACS communications and advocacy director.
For those who wish to quit smoking, the cancer society will offer a GAS cessation and support line operating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Nov. 15. The support line will be staffed by people who can offer support, advice and local referrals to callers interested in quitting smoking. The support line number is (888) 227-6446.
While helping smokers quit is one Smokeout focus, he said ACS also is working on other fronts such as advocating responsible tobacco policies and public programs that impact all levels of government, schools and workplaces.
Writing contest: For instance, ACS invites local middle school pupils to participate in a Great American Smokeout letter-writing contest urging Gov. Bob Taft to address tobacco issues that affect the health of all Ohioans.
A panel of judges will read the letters and award prizes to the winning pupils and their teachers. ACS will deliver the letters to the governor. Details about the contest can be obtained on the Ohio Web page at www.cancer.org or by calling toll free (888) 227-6446 or (330) 533-0546.
Locally, Volney Rogers Junior High School in Youngstown has planned several activities:
UThere will be an assembly Thursday on the dangers of tobacco, where students will place magazines that contain tobacco advertisements in an artificial coffin. They will then send the ads to tobacco companies and ask them to quit targeting children.
UPupils will adopt a smoker and bring that person to the assembly urging them to quit tobacco for a day.
On Wednesday, a display table containing information about tobacco and tips on how to quit smoking will be placed in Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University. Southern Local Elementary and Intermediate schools in Columbiana County are distributing stickers and antitobacco literature to students this week.
"Our hope is that the 25th anniversary of GAS will be the catalyst that helps some people stop smoking, others to never start, and still others to pass laws that will help protect Ohioans from the health hazards posed by tobacco use," Stabilito said.