County tobacco prevention program benefits many

The Mohave County Tobacco Use Prevention Program has benefited people by helping them quit smoking or discouraging them from smoking in the first place, according to supporters of the program.

Such programs are important in this county because the smoking rate is 35 percent - one of the highest in the state - said Susan Williams, coordinator of the Mohave County Tobacco Use Prevention Program.

"The key thing for our program is the structure is in place and people know to come to MCTUPP," she said.

She said about 1,200 county residents have participated in a 10-week, intensive stop-smoking classes.

Such programs face cuts as Gov.

Jane Hull and the state Legislature are trying to eliminate a $1.6 billion budget deficit.

Program supporters said they feared that cuts in state funding would hamper the county programs, which include the classes, a support group that meets weekly at Kingman Regional Medical Center, and programs in the schools and the Boys and Girls Club of Kingman.

Stephanie Swanick of Kingman said she relapsed into a 35-year smoking habit when a move during the spring to San Diego cut her ties to an anti-smoking hotline service.

She said she went without a cigarette for 86 days before relapsing.

"I was feeling so good and so strong after 86 days I thought I had it under control," Swanick said.

"It's a serious addiction."

Swanick, who works in the county Department of Human Resources through a work experience program, said on Friday that she went without a cigarette for a month, thanks to her participation with the Tobacco Anonymous support group.

Swanick said she opposes any cuts in state funding for tobacco education programs.

She cited voter approval in 1994 of Proposition 200, which raised the tax on cigarette packs by 40 cents to 58 cents.

The proposed funding cut recommended by Hull would hamper the Kingman Youth Beating Up Teen Tobacco club at Kingman High School, president Misty Fogg said.

The club has about 40 members.

"We wouldn't be able to do all the things that we do without the proper funding," said Fogg, a senior at the north campus.

"We would have to resort to fund-raisers and sponsors.

It's a big hassle."

The club would continue to exist, but would "not be as powerful," she said.

She said the funding cuts could mean the loss of other programs.

"I think that it is something that should be brought to the attention of everybody," she said.

"A lot of good programs would be lost.

It is just too bad that they have to beat up on the anti-smoking programs.

We're just such a positive thing, and I just don't agree with what (the state lawmakers) may be doing."