Cancel Summertime?: A Letter to the Editor by Rebecca Murphy-Hoefer
Dear Dr. Novick,
It’s been a cold winter, but should summertime be canceled?
As a person born and raised in Buffalo, NY, I don’t take it lightly when asking this question. Given that tobacco use is STILL the single most preventable cause of premature death and disease, it is important to look at the variables related to tobacco use during the summer.
It has been established that smoking uptake among youth occurs in summer months. Factors such as tobacco marketing and unstructured time contribute to this problem. In addition, an increase in cigarette sales and tax revenues point to a similar summertime scenario among adults.
Now, in a recent study from Maine, “Media Flight Schedules and Seasonality in Relation to Quitline Call Volume,” published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, my co-authors and I have reported a suppression of 53 calls on average to the Maine Tobacco Helpline during the week of Independence Day.
That’s three strikes; what’s a public health person to do?
At the very least, we might need to change the name of Independence Day. I find it sadly ironic that Independence Day may be a precursor for dependence of nicotine among children and adults. Or should Independence Day only be celebrated by people who aren’t addicted to neurotransmitter-changing drugs, like nicotine? At a minimum, as a public health community, we need to find what summertime interventions, messages, and channels will be most effective in changing the status quo.
And so, while the idea of canceling summertime may be wildly unpopular and preposterous, here’s hoping effective interventions will be implemented to address this problem so that more people can truly celebrate the meaning of freedom on Independence Day.
P.S. Our study also finds that the weeks of Christmas and Thanksgiving have similar call volume “issues.” I’ll get my snow shovel and start working.
For related reading, please see these other articles published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice*:
- The Impact of Implementing Tobacco Control Policies: The 2017 Tobacco Control Policy Scorecard
- Never Quit Trying: Reengaging Tobacco Users in Statewide Cessation Services
- Is Every Smoker Interested in Price Promotions? An Evaluation of Price-Related Discounts by Cigarette Brands
*Articles may require a subscription to JPHMP or purchase.
With over 20 years of experience in tobacco control, Rebecca Murphy-Hoefer has collaborated with federal, state, local health agencies, and other partners in the research, development, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive tobacco control programs while working for the CDC; Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Buffalo, NY; Maine CDC; Utah Department of Health; American Cancer Society; as well as assistant professor of communications at Kennesaw State University, GA.