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A witness to tobacco addiction

February 21, 2013
Lake Placid News

To the editor:

With temperatures below zero in the past few weeks, people might wonder why smokers would stand outside just to smoke a cigarette. The answer: addiction. The nicotine in tobacco is said to be more addictive than heroin, and use of tobacco products at a young age can lead to addiction in adult life.

The New York State Tobacco Control Programs work to change community norms around tobacco use, work with health-care providers and educate the community around the dangers of tobacco use. However, since 2009, state budget cuts have slashed tobacco control funding in half. As a result, some population groups are not benefiting from the progress against smoking. This has an immediate effect on youth and adults, as statewide 12.5 percent of youth use tobacco products and 18 percent of adults are regular tobacco users. Two arms of the NYS Tobacco Control Program, Community Partnerships and Reality Check, focus on decreasing tobacco marketing to prevent youth from becoming addicted and to help current tobacco users stop using tobacco products.

As a child, I had two close relatives who were regular tobacco users. My aunt began smoking at age 15 and only stopped when she was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 58. Shortly after being diagnosed, the cancer spread to her brain; she passed away six months later. My grandmother, now 93, was able to break her addiction to tobacco at age 70 and is still living today; however, after so many years of smoking, she has to use a nebulizer three times a day to help her breathe.

I've seen what addiction to tobacco products can do, and I would like to see more stories about people getting help and overcoming their addiction. I fully support the efforts of the NYS Tobacco Control Program to decrease tobacco use in adults and protect youth from tobacco marketing.

Samantha Ahlfeld

Americorps member

Clinton County Health Department




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