Mayor Don Wesely today presented three Lincoln elementary school students with awards for winning the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout Letter Writing Contest. The Mayor also recognized several smoke-free businesses and signed a proclamation declaring Thursday, November 15 as Great American Smokeout Day in the city of Lincoln.
“We have seen dramatic changes in use of tobacco in this country, but the fact is that there are still about 47 million adults in the U.S. who smoke and many young people who have taken up the habit,” said Mayor Wesely. “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women, and 80 percent of those cases probably result from smoking. It is extremely important that we encourage smokers to give up the habit and convince our young people not to start.”
Ten schools entered the contest, in which Lincoln sixth-graders were asked to write a letter about the importance of being smoke- free. The first place winner is Sarah Kosch of Blessed Sacrament School. Second place went to Jim Morin of St. Teresa’s School, and third place went to Kam McKinney of Fredstrom Elementary. The winners received savings bonds from Pinnacle Bank and will be treated to a party with UNL athletes tomorrow.
The businesses recognized for becoming smoke free are Valentino’s Pizza, Yassmin Restaurant, the Middle East Market and the Lincoln Electric System.
This is the 25th year the American Cancer Society is sponsoring the Great American Smokeout.
The event encourages smokers to give up cigarettes for one day in an effort to convince them to quit for good and educates the public about the dangers of smoking and second- hand smoke.
“This year’s Smokeout focuses on the importance of clean air,” said Cindy Wostrel, Chairwoman of the Tobacco Free Lincoln Coalition. “Exposure to second-hand smoke is the third most common cause of preventable death.”
Wostrel said the Tobacco Free Nebraska Program recently kicked off a statewide anti-tobacco media campaign, which includes messages aimed at young people. The campaign is part of the three-year program, which is funded in part by Nebraska’s share of the national tobacco settlement.