There are many factors that contribute to increased health care costs. However, smoking is one that can be addressed by individuals.
An article in Flourish, the Southeast Missourian's new women's magazine, recently reported that smoking rates are increasing in Southeast Missouri -- including among teens and pregnant women.
The rise in smoking rates is even more troubling as new information emerges about the dangers of smoking. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 40 percent of American children who go to hospitals because of asthma attacks live with smokers.
Meanwhile, a study conducted in Scotland documented the decline in asthma-related hospitalizations when smoking decreased.
The Women, Infants and Children clinics in Bollinger, Butler and Cape Girardeau counties are addressing the issue. Smokebusters, a statewide program focusing on peer education to prevent smoking, is being used by the Scott and Bollinger counties' health departments. As a result of this program and the involvement of the Zalma High School students, the high school will become a smoke-free campus Jan. 1.
Congratulations to these counties and the high school for being proactive on this issue. As the new year approaches, make this year the time to quit smoking.