To the Editor:
Fifty years after its release, the legacy of the U.S. Surgeon General’s tobacco report is more powerful than ever
Watch any episode of the hit TV show “Mad Men” and it’ll give you the sense of how normal smoking used to be in America – on airplanes, in movie theaters, in hospital waiting rooms.
Since then, the national smoking rate has dropped to around 20 percent – and smoking isn’t allowed in a lot of public places anymore. Indeed, since the summer of 2012, tobacco prevention efforts have resulted in several Wyoming establishments going voluntarily smoke-free – including the Irma Hotel in Cody, The Mint Bar in Sheridan and all the bars in Centennial.
The release of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Jan. 11, 1964, laid the groundwork for these important public health changes.
That landmark report forever changed the public view of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Once thought of as a harmless vice, the report clearly illustrated – with data to back it – the serious health harms of tobacco use.
The report’s impact continues to be felt to this day. Many important policies have resulted, such as Laramie going smoke-free in 2005, Cheyenne in 2006, Evanston in 2007 and business owners in Crook County implementing smoke-free policies in their restaurants and bars might not have occurred without the first Surgeon General’s report.
But there are challenges, especially in Wyoming, where nearly 1 in 4 adults smoke cigarettes, and 10 percent of residents use smokeless tobacco – which is 6 percentage points over the national average, according to the Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center’s “The Impact of Tobacco in Wyoming 2013 Annual Summary.”
To that end, we need to continue to show the same kind of courage that it took to release that first report. I encourage community members to learn more about local tobacco prevention efforts by calling 307-290-0294.
And remember: Wyoming tobacco users who want to quit can call the Wyoming Quit Tobacco Program at 1-800-OUIT-NOW or visit quitwyo.org to get started on their own healthy, tobacco-free life.
Community Prevention Professional
This January 15 is special to me because it is a “Golden Anniversary.” Fifteen years ago I had open heart surgery in Fort Collins, CO to fix my aortic valve. I was in my 20s, had lost both my parents, didn’t have health insurance, and was engaged to my high school sweetheart. The need for open heart surgery was an opportunity for others to show an outpouring of love and change me forever.
I saw love poured out by the 26 year old man who choose to give of his body via organ donation and by those giving their finances. The money was a total hand out, but I have a face of those giving to go with where the money came. I also saw love poured out by the doctors/hospital reducing the bill and won’t ever forget Dr. Smith, Dr. Guadagnoli and Dr. Miller.
I pray this love story challenges you to pour love out on others around you and to seek a relationship with Jesus Christ who poured out everything and can give you a new heart, just like He did me.
Lewistown, MT (formerly Sundance, WY; Belle Fourche, SD; Laramie, WY)