Farmers’ Market Display Raises Awareness of Tobacco Deaths


Photo: Rosemary Piser

Updated 5-22-09 at 1:48 p.m. with updated statistics.

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Sherice Collins, Senior Public Health Educator Tobacco Prevention and Control of the Cook County Department of Public Health brought an attention-grabbing display to Saturday’s Farmers’ Market. While many claim that tobacco smoking is a ‘personal choice,’ the display of some 300 pairs of shoes representing the number of suburban Cook County residents that die each year due to second-hand smoke, clearly demonstrates the unintended victims of tobacco.

In her role as educator, Ms. Collins feels it is most important to teach young children that smoking is not ‘cool.’ “Children often adopt behaviors that are exhibited by their peers and role models,” according to Ms. Collins. “If their peers or those they admire like musicians or actors and actresses are seen smoking, then children are likely to view smoking as a way to become part of the ‘in-crowd’ rather than reflect on the adverse health consequences of smoking.” This educational challenge is complicated by the fact that tobacco companies spend upwards of $700,000 an hour trying to convince people that smoking is fun and exciting. Ads are intentionally placed in magazines and in convenience stores in order to attract new, young smokers because studies show that if people don’t start smoking as teens, then they probably won’t ever smoke.

Current data shows that tobacco alone is the #1 killer of African Americans, causing more deaths than HIV, automobile accidents, homicide and suicide COMBINED. Tobacco use is the major contributor of the three leading causes of death in African Americans, i.e., heart diseases, cancer, and stroke.

For current smokers who have been unsuccessful with ‘kicking the habit’ in the past, the Cook Count Department of Public Health offers individualized solutions to help you quit on your own terms and the best part of all, is that they are absolutely FREE.

Cook County QUITNET (www.cookcounty.quitnet.com) is a computer-based program that will allow you to set a quit date and keep track of your progress with a personalized quitting calendar. You can also receive community support from other people who are quitting too or get advice from those who have already quit. The QUITNET website also has important information about smoking-related issues.

The Illinois Tobacco Quitline (1-866-QUIT.YES) allows you to speak one-on-one with a counselor who can provide information, advice and support. You can also design a personalized program that will assist you in reaching your goal to quit smoking for good. The Quitline is available Monday-Friday from 7 AM until 6 PM and you can call as often and as long as you like.

The American Lung Association offers a formal Freedom from Smoking Program. This program has been ranked the most effective smoking cessation program in a study from the Fordham University Graduate School of Business and has helped hundreds of thousands of people over its 25 years of success. For further information about the Freedom From Smoking Program, call 1-800-586-4872.

If you are a smoker remember that quitting is the most important thing that you can do for yourself and your family.