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  • 03.07.2014 Most Bars In Marion County Could Be Smoke-free Soon

    A surprise bid by the City-County Council president to pass a stronger smoking cigarettes ban covering bars and bowling alleys -- in the waning days of the Republican majority -- has caught two key groups off guard.Democrats had been making plans to push for an even stronger measure after they take control of the council Jan. 1. No matter who's in charge, their votes are vital for passage of an expanded smoking cigarettes ban in any form, since many Republicans are opposed.And anti-smoking cigarettes advocates called the move by Republicans -- with backing from Mayor Greg Ballard --...

  • 17.06.2014 Up In Smoke

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  • 06.11.2012 Smoking Foes Find Inspiration In County

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Basking Ridge Boy Wins National Anti-Tobacco

Ask Louie Lafakis about the influence tobacco-chewing baseball players have on adoring fans, and all the 11-year-old Basking Ridge boy has to do is point to his father.

John Lafakis was introduced to the world of dip in high school, where his baseball teammates told him he wouldn’t play on the varsity squad unless he dipped. It’s a habit the elder Lafakis has regretted ever since.

Louie is determined to avoid the sins of his 44-year-old father. Inspired by John’s countless attempts to quit, Louie has become a middle-school crusader against nicotine.

"It hurts," the boy said of his father’s tobacco habit. "I worry about him all the time."

Lafakis penned a slogan — "Make a great play. Throw tobacco away" — that recently won first place in a nationwide contest. Beating out more than 500 others, Lafakis won $500 and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch on Aug. 23 at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.

The prizes don’t end there. Oral Health America, the Chicago-based nonprofit that held the contest, is sending Louie a Louisville Slugger emblazoned with his slogan, a signed jersey from Chicago White Sox pitcher John Danks and his own trading pin. Louie’s Little League chapter will also get $500,

His biggest prize, however, might come from his dad.

Inspired by his son, John Lafakis is determined to quit for good this time.

The longest he’d gone without dipping tobacco had been three months — when Louie, his only child, was born. His usage has gone down over the years, he said, but he still can’t resist the urge.

When his son asks him about his habit, all John says is: "The best way to stop is to just stay away from it. Nobody wants to quit more than the person doing it."

It’s a message he wants ingrained in Louie, especially in a time when smokeless tobacco is gaining popularity.

Increased taxes on cigarettes and the rise of smoking cigarettes bans in many cities and towns nationwide have led Big Tobacco to turn to smokeless tobacco as a prime money-making source.

And, R. J. Reynolds, the nation’s second-largest tobacco company, is test marketing a dissolvable product called Camel Orbs — pellets made of ground tobacco and candy-like ingredients such as mint or cinnamon. The company is also developing twisted toothpick-sized sticks called Camel Sticks and dissolvable strips called Camel Dissolvables.

"All of our products are made for and marketed to adult tobacco consumers," R.J. Reynolds spokesman Richard Smith said. "Camel Dissolvables are sold side-by-side with other tobacco products along the back bar behind the retail counter, and their sale is age-restricted to adult tobacco consumers."

Anti-tobacco advocates fear those products could still draw in young users.

"Tobacco companies are doing more marketing, and they’re making it look like candy," said Dan Cronin, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

That backdrop has made events such as the annual slogan contest even more important, said Melissa Hoebel, spokeswoman for Oral Health America. The contest is now in its 10th year, she said.

In the Lafakis household, the pressure is now on John Lafakis, a corporate insurance broker in New York, as he tackles his latest attempt to kick the habit.

He’s said he’s tried to quit many times, so many times that Louie already understands how difficult it is.

Louie said he’s grateful that his father has been able to cut back. "Just that little bit helps."

But John said that isn’t enough.

"I’m going to try even harder this time," he said.

 

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