Over the next few weeks, many Barry Countians will attempt to keep New Year's resolutions to spend more time with family and friends, lose weight and increase their fitness levels. Another top resolution many local residents have committed to is to quit smoking.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released information that showed that the number of U.S. adults who use tobacco products only slightly decreased in 2008. According to a CDC press release, 20.6 percent of Americans were current cigarette smokers in 2008, which is only a .3 percent decrease since 2004.
"The study further illustrates the dangers of tobacco use," said Kathleen King, Barry County Health Department administrator. "We are receiving more and more data about the dangers of smoking, but people are still finding it difficult to quit."
In an attempt to help the 25 percent of area residents who are current smokers kick the habit, the local health department established a Chronic Disease Coalition several years ago.
"The coalition has had many successes over the last few years," said King. "For instance, it has helped four of the seven local schools become totally tobacco-free campuses."
Last year, the coalition sponsored a women's luncheon to give local women information about resources available to help them improve their health and break unhealthy habits.
"The coalition publishes a smoke-free dining guide, which is distributed to each of the local motels, doctor's offices, chamber of commerce offices and schools," said King. "We also offer several educational programs in the schools to educate children about the dangers of tobacco usage."
According to the Missouri Foundation for Health, Missouri has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation, and the state's lung cancer death rate remains high despite a significant decrease in the national rate.
In order to help Missourians remain successful in the quest to stop smoking, the Missouri Foundation for Health participates in a cooperative agreement with the CDC to fund the Missouri Tobacco Quitline, which offers counseling and resource materials.
Individuals who call the quitline are offered a set of materials to assist them in quitting. They also have the opportunity to speak with a trained Quit Coach to explore their patterns of tobacco use and barriers to success.
Local residents interested in receiving assistance as they attempt to break their tobacco usage habits can call the Missouri Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Information is also available at the Barry County Health Department's offices, which are located at 65 Main St. in Cassville and on Highway 37 south of Monett.