To the Editor:
Thursday, Nov. 15 marks the 37th annual Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The Smokeout encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life — one that can lead to reducing their risk of cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses.
Tobacco use remains the single preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.
The sign in the photograph is one of hundreds that have now been placed within every city-owned park, playground and bus shelter in the City of Alexandria. Its language requests smokers to refrain from smoking in those venues out of respect for the health of others. But each sign also provides information about free, confidential and effective resources that are available to those who are interested in quitting smoking. Surveys show that over 70 percent of smokers say they are "ready to quit" but most say they know of no other alternatives to that of "cold turkey." Now they do, at least in Alexandria. In this way, these signs honor the Great American Smokeout every day of the year.
Richard E. Merritt, Chair
Alexandria Public Health Advisory Commission
Alexandria Coalition for Clean and Smoke-Free Air