[JAN. 20, 2006]
Reality struck in Lincoln city chambers this week
when members of the local high school group Reality came before the
council to discuss tobacco. Their visit was most timely as
communities up and down the state discuss restricting smoking in
Beginning Jan. 1, Illinois law opened the opportunity for
communities to set their own smoking restrictions. A ban against
smoking in nearly all public places went into effect on Jan. 16 in
Chicago. On Tuesday evening the city of Springfield voted to ban
smoking in restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and private clubs. That
measure goes into effect Sept. 17. While communities all over the
state are discussing it, interest and activity decreases the farther
south you go in Illinois.
Three Reality members -- Cameron Kurtz, Kelly Gosda and Sabra Boyd
-- each took turns addressing the Lincoln council on their mission
to warn their peers and others about the dangers of smoking and
secondhand smoke. Anne Duffey, who began serving as health educator at
the Logan County Health Department seven months ago, assists the
group. Mark Hilliard, health department administrator, was also
Each member of the group was well-versed in various aspects of
tobacco use, its hazards and how it is being marketed to youth, even
in our local businesses.
Currently, 52 Illinoisans die every day of a tobacco-related
illness. [See other Illinois tobacco facts
Logan County has a 28 percent to 33.5 percent smoking rate. This
is the highest of four ranges. There are 18 other counties in the
state in this range. Eighty-three counties have lower rates.
Through direct encouragement in everyday life, the local teens
are committed to helping their peers avoid tobacco products and to
avoid those who use tobacco. They also participate in structured
activities. They host a day of healthy living choice classes and
activities for seventh-graders each year called PARTY, which stands
for Positive Actions Relating to Youth. They also participate in the
annual health fair.
Reality teens have been active in surveying what is happening
in local businesses such as restaurants, campaigning for smoke-free
environments. [See list of smoke-free
Through Operation Store Front, they also assess businesses that
sell tobacco products. They evaluate displays and posters to see if
youth are being targeted in promotions. They look to see how easily
product is accessible. They would like to see all tobacco products
behind the counters where it must be asked for and a clerk must
Marlboro Lights are the No. 1 seller in cigarettes.
Mayor Beth Davis thanked the group for coming to speak. She said
that so often we only hear about the negative about what our youth
are doing; she wanted people to hear the good too.
Reality Illinois program was established by the state from
settlements with tobacco companies and is sponsored locally by the
Logan County Health Department.