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Editorial: Today is great day to stop your smoking

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Today is the Great American Smokeout -- it's a great time for smokers to take the first step of quitting.

The Great American Smokeout is a unique Minnesota-originated affair, inspired by the late Lynn Smith, editor of the Monticello Times. He founded Don't Smoke Days in 1974 in Monticello and Minnesota, which led to the widely observed November day that has raised awareness of the health hazards of smoking.

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The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to quit for a day -- and then take it one day at a time. The result is that many smokers each year quit for the day and never light up again.

Some Minnesota cities and counties, such as Meeker County, Minneapolis, St. Paul, have stepped up to address the danger of secondhand smoke by implementing bans on smoking in public places. They are at the forefront of a growing public health issue -- the danger of secondhand smoke.

The facts of secondhand smoke are shocking. A University of California study found that non-smokers receive the equivalent of cigarette smoking just by being around smokers:

n In a smoky bar for two hours cigarettes = 4 cigarettes

n In the non-smoking section of a restaurant =1.5 cigarettes

It's time for other counties and cities in west central Minnesota to follow Meeker County's smoking ban example. Kandiyohi and McLeod counties are studying the possibility of smoking bans but have not adopted any specific plan yet. Regrettably, other counties are taking the easy way out and are waiting for the implementation of a statewide ban.

The individual cost of smoking is significant as the average smoker spends $1,800 alone for cigarettes alone. This does not count the medical cost for the smoker or family members.

Smoking is a dangerous habit for smokers and their family members. There is help for family members to buck the habit. You can find download a free "Proven Stop Smoking Technique" at www.smokefreesociety.org.

If you are a smoker who wants to quit, today is a great day to start. If you will not do it for yourself, please consider your family and do it for those you love.

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