Here are some news items you may have missed due to the two wars, the economy and the health care bill battle.

Here are some news items you may have missed due to the two wars, the economy and the health care bill battle.

According to Health Care State Rankings, Minnesota has replaced Vermont as the “Healthiest State in America.” Missouri remains at number 34 while Kansas dropped five places to 15 and Mississippi came in last. 

Statemasters.com reports that Kentucky leads the nation with 23 percent of their population identified as everyday smokers. Missouri, with 18.4 percent ranks 10th, an embarrassing number that must be lowered. Overall, 21 percent of America smokes, totaling 45 million smokers. How do we reach these people? How can we help them wane themselves off of their nicotine addiction? 

Research and facts may help. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. An American has a hearth attack nearly every 25 seconds resulting in death. Not all deaths are attributed to smoking; however, that number would be higher if it were not for 21 states having smoking bans. Last month a report of 13 studies in Canada, Europe and the U.S., showed that 36 percent fewer heart attacks due to ban on smoking. The first year alone saw a decline of 17 percent.

There’s more evidence of the dangers of second-hand smoke as a contributor to heart attacks and lung cancer. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, second-hand smoke kills nearly 50,000 every year from hearth disease alone.

There is no official medical data to determine how Jackson County is faring. Officials at the Jackson County Department of Health tell me that it’s too early to reveal the beneficial effects of local smoking bans because  bans have not be in effect long enough for a trend to develop.

Further, only four cities, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Kansas City have complete or partial bans which makes it even more difficult to gauge trends. What is irrefutable is that second-hand smoke contributes to premature deaths. The CDCP warns that even a short time in a smoky room can cause blood platelets to become stickier and can damage the lining of blood vessels.  Basically, second-hand smoke interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of heart attack, not to mention lung cancer.

Just imagine what it does to smokers?

I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.