American Cancer Society: Smoking is a drag

By By Erin Hilsabeck / staff writer
June 20, 2004
For nearly a century, the American Cancer Society has worked to fight cancer.
Today, more than 2 million volunteers and directors use research, education, advocacy and service to try and conquer the group of diseases anyone can develop.
American Cancer Society representatives Allison Terrell, Alisha Parker and Dennis Warren and the new chairperson of the Lauderdale County Relay for Life, Diana Burnham, met with The Meridian Star editorial board last week to discuss non-smoking legislation, cancer advocacy and prevention and Relay for Life.
The Meridian Star: Tell us what the American Cancer Society does.
Allison Terrell: The American Cancer Society has four primary focuses: research, education, advocacy and service. Breakthroughs like chemotherapy for colon cancer, lumpectomies, radiation and treatment for breast cancer are directly linked to the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society dollars. We are the largest source of funds for cancer research next to the federal government.
Dennis Warren: Whether it's through patient services, whether it's helping that patient through information, helping them find whatever they need to make their lives easier that's what we're about. It's making sure the materials are out there, so somebody can look at it and maybe make a diagnosis earlier. The American Cancer Society wants to be there every step of the way through our national hotline, 1-800-ACS-2345.
The Star: How are you involved in legislation?
Terrell: We're involved in every step of the legislative process. We monitor the legislative agenda and really look at what will have the largest impact for cancer patients.
The Star: Have you made efforts to make restaurants and bars smoke-free?
Terrell: Every single year we fight that battle. This year we got a lot of attention because they did introduce the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance in the city of Jackson that excluded restaurants and bars.
Warren: A potted plant in a restaurant is not a non-smoking section between my 12-month-old daughter and a guy sitting over here who's working on his third cigarette during dinner. My child is being confronted with secondhand smoke. I don't want my child in a restaurant where there's smoking.
Terrell: The fact is, 80 percent of Mississippi doesn't smoke. We're talking about the vocal minority that's getting their way. The number of children and adults that would be saved by passing something that would help out Medicaid like a 50 cent excise tax per pack. This is a user fee. If you don't smoke, you don't pay that tax. It is proven you stop smoking the more a pack of cigarettes costs. We're not necessarily trying to generate more money. ACS's mission is to save lives. Our ultimate goal is to impact anything that is going to save lives. As long as we're here and it has not passed, it will be coming up again.
The Star: Do you expect to see opposition to such a bill?
Alisha Parker: Based on what happened in Jackson, we think we will. We will see opposition from business owners and from smokers. But most people do not want to go to a restaurant that's smoky. Three thousand non-smoker adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke. It's about my rights when I enter a restaurant where there's smoke.
Terrell: We do understand this is a challenging process; that it's a long process. This is not anything that's going to happen overnight. But we do feel like it's another step that will ultimately save lives in the end.
The Star: How important are events such as Relay for Life?
Warren: It is amazing what communities do with Relay for Life. Kemper County, in their first year, made $56,221. They take the fight against cancer seriously. A lot of the people in Kemper County are probably 45-plus. They've seen the effects of cancer. They don't hesitate going out and asking for funds.
The Star: Is the Meridian Relay for Life successful?
Warren: I only see bright things happening for us. I think that we are just beginning to tap the efforts of the people and the volunteers in Meridian. I don't think we're in a slump. I think that if you look at the economy, and you look at all of the other factors, I think that this Relay for Life in the next two years will see heights that we've never seen before. All it takes to make a difference in cancer is to step to the plate and volunteer.
Terrell: We have great leadership volunteers and other people who are dedicated. That is were you see the success stories.

News

Russellville Parks and Rec adult softball league grows interest

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Thomas Randall Miller

Franklin County

Community Spirit Bank announces promotion

Franklin County

Police search underway for man wanted in three states

Franklin County

Local students earn collegiate honors

East Franklin

PHOTOS: East Franklin Junior High awards honors

News

Traveling band makes stop at Phil Campbell High School

News

Russellville Parks and Rec holds adult sandlot softball game

Galleries

PHOTOS: Community celebrates Fourth of July with annual Jam on Sloss Lake

News

Second Canadian Phil greeted by town

Franklin County

Franklin County Schools lead nurse school nurse named administrator of the year

News

Former Russellville resident performs in ‘Miracle Worker’

Galleries

PHOTOS: Russellville, Red Bay public libraries enjoy summer reading program events

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight: Robbie Richardson

News

University of Mississippi announces spring Chancellor’s Honor Roll

News

PHOTOS: Community turns out for Phil Campbell Festival

Franklin County

University of Alabama announces spring graduates

Franklin County

Dean’s, president’s lists students named for UA spring term

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Hugh Plott

Galleries

PHOTOS: Inaugural downtown Russellville Art Crawl winners

Galleries

PHOTOS: Russellville Public Library holds princess, pirates bounce party

Franklin County

Northwest Shoals Community College signs 24 students in FAME class

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Tony Chard

News

Car show benefit helps raise needed funds

x