Editorial, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 1997

CATEGORY: EDT Editorials

AUTHOR: JOER

Editorial, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 1997

Many of the leading health problems in the United States stem from the way we Americans live.

North Mississippi Health Services places emphasis on education and personal responsibility today from 1 p.m to 9 p.m. at the Tupelo Coliseum with “Live Well,” an eight-hour kickoff event for a community health initiative.

The event, which will include free flu shots and inexpensive blood sugar and cholesterol screenings, is designed to provide high-profile emphasis on the most preventable of Northeast Mississippi’s health problems.

Two nationally known advocates for personal health responsibility will cap the day’s activities.

Dr. Bob Lanier will speak at 6 p.m. He is the host for a nationally syndicated television feature called “Sixty Second Housecall,” and he has only recently retired from an active pediatrics practice in Texas. He will speak about living well.

The other featured speaker, at 7:30 p.m., has become a thorn in the flesh of the American tobacco industry because he uses his personal experience and tobacco wealth to dissuade Americans’ smoking and tobacco use.

Patrick Reynolds, an heir of the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune, divested himself of family company stock in 1979 and in 1989 began the Foundation for A Smoke-Free America. He travels widely, spreading the news about the risks of smoking and bad health. He counters, from the personal perspective of losing parents and grandparents to tobacco related illnesses, claims by the tobacco industry of its blamelessness in matters of public and personal health problems.

His visit is timely because of Mississippi’s recent groundbreaking settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the American tobacco industry for recovery of public money spent caring for indigent people with tobacco induced illnesses. It is even more important because Mississippians suffer from a higher-than-average incidence of smoking-related illnesses and deaths because Mississippians’ smoking surpasses national averages.

Americans generally, including Northeast Mississippians, know a great deal about getting illnesses treated by good doctors and superior hospitals. The medical profession and the health care industry both excel in getting across diagnosis and treatment messages. They are less successful in getting Americans’ attention about preventing illness through the way we live – and many Americans, including Northeast Mississippians, also are less receptive to hearing those facts.

The Live Well” event today seeks to open minds and change attitudes – actions that eventually could enhance lives and prevent some premature deaths.

The flu shots will be given free; a $5 fee will be charged for the blood-work screenings.

Hospitals in West Point and Iuka and health-care facilities in Pontotoc, Baldwyn and Webster County also will participate. All are part of the North Mississippi Health Services corporate network.

Participating today could make a life-saving as well as a life-changing difference.