November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which is why the American Cancer Society staged the "Great American Smokeout" on Nov. 2. So how fitting is it that we are highlighting the Rapides Parish School system and Haynesville for their efforts to reduce smoking too!
In Rapides Parish, educators had become increasingly concerned about the level of on-campus vaping, even before kids started dying from the practice. So they applied for and got a LHCC mini-grant that help them create "No Smoking, No Vaping" signs. With a little help from the LHCC communications team, these signs are now in the schools, telling kids "Don't be the next generation of addicts."
We also want to congratulate these educators for being proactive. As of Nov. 20, the CDC says there have been 47 confirmed vaping deaths (two in Louisiana) and more than 2,000 vaping-associated lung injuries, so we need to stop everyone from picking up an e-cig.
In Haynesville, to support its recently passed smoke-free ordinance, the LHCC mini-grant was used to help educate people about the ordinance. And that meant smoke-free signage in all of the town's facilities, plus two smoke-free events, including "Bingo With A Twist" and a "Fun in The Sun," to help people understand and enjoy the effects of the ordinance.
Still not sure what the point of all these efforts are? Here are the facts, folks: Vaping, in its very short time around, has already proved deadly and injurious to people. It's killed two Louisianians in just one week and who knows how much that toll will rise? And we haven't even been able to study the long-term effects yet because e-cigs simply haven't been around long enough to do so. Do you want to, or have anyone you love, be a guinea pig?
As for regular old-school type smoking and tobacco – it's got to go. Tobacco is the single biggest cause of death and disease everywhere, whether you're talking about Louisiana, the United States or the world. (Think heart disease, cancer, stroke and more.) Yet, I read recently most people believe you can't do anything to prevent cancer! NOT TRUE! About half of all cancers are preventable. And think: The single deadliest cancer is lung, and we know what causes the vast majority of lung cancer: tobacco! So let's all get the facts, get real and stop believing there is nothing we can do to stop cancer or tobacco. We can. Just look at The Rapides Parish School Board and Haynesville.