It’s one week until District Days and today we roll out the third post in our “What’s Your Number?” series. This week we hear from Monty Messex from Los Angeles County. Click here to check out the post from week one and click here for the post from week two.
What’s your number? That was the theme of I&E Days this year.
Ugh, I thought to myself, is this really going to work. We’re going to cram into a small Capitol office with an overwhelmed legislator or their just-hired staffer and share a personal story about a number! Really? REALLY!
But, hey I’m a team player, so I came up with a number.
24. That’s my number. That’s how I old I was when I quit smoking. It was a long time ago and for that I’m grateful. 24. That’s what I told the legislators and their staffers (well actually only their staffers). Things quieted down and they listened. I started smoking when I was young. I don’t remember how old, but I was definitely under 18. Smoking was cool. Cigarettes were cheap. It was the 80’s! 24. I didn’t have to suffer through years of physical and mental addiction. I was lucky, I got away. Others aren’t so fortunate.
Currently, in Los Angeles County, where I live, there are over 1 million adult smokers. Tobacco use is associated with the top five leading causes of death including heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and emphysema/COPD. These diseases are responsible for nearly half of all deaths in LA County.
Then, surprisingly, they opened up and shared their own numbers, their own stories about the toll of tobacco. How old they were when a loved one died of cancer due to smoking or the year a family member finally quit for last time. It worked. It put a human face on what we do in tobacco control.
So what’s your number? Give it a try during Local District Days this year. 😉
Los Angeles County Tobacco Control & Prevention Program