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New law to clamp down more on smoking
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Smoking may be little less enticing after the passage last Monday of an anti-smoking law, but whether it will encourage more people to kick the habit or never start still is up in the air.
President Barack Obama signed a historic piece of legislation that tightens the reins on the tobacco industry.
The Food and Drug Administration can now regulate nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes.
The law also cracks down on advertising and marketing techniques, including misleading labels about light or low-tar products and candy flavors. The stricter rules are meant to lessen the appeal to youth and new smokers.
“You felt you were grown,” said Linda Hill. “When I was young, I used to see it on TV and thought it was glamorous.”
Hill said she noticed those commercials aren’t aired anymore after the government cracked down on the tobacco industry about 10 years ago.
Willie Price picked up the habit as a teenager.
“I don’t know why we started smoking,” Price said. “It was just something to do, you know.”
He thinks most people who start don’t really understand or consider the health risks involved.
Realizing this, many officials in Washington took the lead in educating smokers and encouraging them to quit.  
“It’s not that they’re being singled out. It’ll basically come down to people’s choice,” Price said.
But quitting can be a real struggle, according to Deborah Wells, who leads the smoking cessation classes at Liberty Regional Medical Center.
The hospital provides the free, four-week sessions on Wednesdays through the American Cancer Society’s Freshstart program.
“They know it’s not healthy for them so they need some help quitting,” Wells said. “Some of them have been smoking for years.”
But it’s all mind over matter, according to Price.
“Once you really make your mind up, you can stop,” Price said.
Annette Shuman lost her father to throat cancer from smoking, but she tried smoking as a young adult.
The costs were enough to make her stop.
“That made me stop right then and there,” Shuman said. “I thought ‘I could be buying shoes and clothes, not cigarettes.’ ”
No medical advice is given during the classes, but attendees have a chance to talk to each other and work through pamphlets and exercises each week.
Classes start at 1 p.m. and participants get a certificate when they complete the course.
Long County will offer the same smoking cessation classes in July.
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