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University of Iowa News Release

May 8, 2003

Photo: John Lowe, Dr.P.H., director of the Iowa Tobacco Research Center at the University of Iowa.

Ruling Does Not Change Benefits Of Going Smoke-Free: UI Researcher

The May 7 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court overturning the secondhand smoke ordinance in Ames does not reflect what is best for the health of all Iowans, according to a tobacco research expert at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Reducing tobacco use is key to improving health and diminishing the threat of secondhand smoke, said John Lowe, Dr.P.H., director of the Iowa Tobacco Research Center at the UI, which operates Quitline Iowa, the state's toll-free smoking cessation hotline.

"Our ultimate concern is to help smokers quit. I hope this ruling will not derail anyone's efforts to quit or prevent a smoker from taking the important step of trying," said Lowe, who is also professor and head of the UI Department of Community and Behavioral Health. "Quitline Iowa is available to help."

Every day, Quitline Iowa's telephone counselors help callers understand and change habits, associations and lifestyles connected to their tobacco addiction. Quitline Iowa can be reached by calling toll free 1-(866) U-CAN-TRY. Resources are also available through their Web site at www.quitlineiowa.org. Research has shown that a person who receives phone counseling during the quitting process is twice as likely to remain tobacco-free than someone who quits on their own.

Smoking is responsible for 4,600 deaths annually in Iowa, and secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the country, Lowe noted.

"We hope that restaurant owners in Ames, Iowa City, and across the state will see that they should remain smoke-free. It is the best thing they can do for their employees and patrons," Lowe said. "We remain concerned about those who don't smoke and their health problems due to secondhand smoke."

The Iowa Tobacco Research Center is part of the UI Department of Community and Behavioral Health in the UI College of Public Health. Quitline Iowa is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health with funds from the state's tobacco settlement.

Quitline counselors are available from 8 am to midnight, seven days a week, to provide free information and support to Iowans interested in quitting smoking. Counselors are trained to help youth, pregnant women and other adults make individualized quit plans; provide informational materials on a variety of related topics; and place follow-up calls for additional support if a caller wishes. Counselors also refer callers to smoking cessation programs in their local areas.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACTS: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu. Dan McMillan, UI College of Public Health, (319) 335-6835, daniel-mcmillan@uiowa.edu.