Tobacco-free burgers better, coalition says

Burger Day Coalition

“Burgers taste better without tobacco,” was the message Canadian County Against Tobacco (CCaT) Coalition wanted to share with festival-goers at El Reno’s Burger Day May 3.

The group set up a game tent in the Kids Zone area and handed out burger-shaped stress balls and other prizes for visitors who correctly answered questions related to the dangers of tobacco and the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The coalition wanted to bring awareness to not only the negative health effects of tobacco use, but also the positive things that happen when a person quits, such as an improved sense of taste, said Jenny Kellbach, tobacco prevention coordinator.

Studies have shown that nicotine can affect taste by reducing taste sensation and even blocking taste centers in the brain, Kellbach said.

“Many smokers experience dulled senses of taste and smell and even decreased blood supply to taste buds,” Kellbach said. “The decrease in these senses typically goes unnoticed until a person quits using tobacco.”

For the first time, Burger Day had tobacco-free areas in both the food court and Kids Zone, Kellbach said.

“Main Street takes pride in providing a fun, family-friendly and safe environment for festival-goers,” El Reno Main Street Director Debbie Harrison said. “Restricting the Kids World and food court areas to a tobacco-free zone was an easy decision that benefited attendees.”

The coalition also offered free resources to festival-goers who were ready to kick the habit. Throughout the day, 15 individuals registered for the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline and received a quit kit to help them get started and stay motivated while trying to quit.  Although the tobacco industry works hard to keep people smoking, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a great resource for anyone age 13 and up who wants to quit.

“The tobacco industry spends millions of dollars advertising to Oklahomans and uses bold flavors to appeal to kids,” CCaT member Kim Baker said. “It’s important to counter those messages with truthful ones about the negatives of tobacco use, even if it’s as simple as ‘Burgers taste better without tobacco.’”

Canadian County Tobacco Prevention Program is a community-based program working to reduce tobacco use and promote prevention of tobacco initiation in youth. Canadian County is funded as a Community of Excellence in Tobacco Control through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

For more information on CCaT, contact Kellbach at (405) 262-0042. For free help to quit smoking, contact the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at 1-800 QUIT NOW or visit okhelpline.com.