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Group battles smoking

Asbury United Methodist church is helping smokers quit.

Asbury United Methodist church is helping smokers quit.

September 02, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Call it outreach, education or even a mission. Whatever the name, the congregation at Asbury United Methodist Church has declared war on cigarette smoking and is battling it on several fronts.

Len Mosby leads a Stop Smoking for Life class at the church. Funded through the Washington County Health Department, the class meets Mondays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the church at 155 Jonathan St.

A lifelong nonsmoker, Mosby said he still feels uniquely qualified to work with smokers who are trying to quit.

"I am alive today because I never smoked," Mosby said. Attacked by a knife-wielding robber in his Jonathan Street store in January 1996, Mosby underwent numerous operations aimed at restoring his health.

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He said all five of his surgeons told him he wouldn't have survived the anesthesia and surgery if he had been a smoker. That revelation prompted the longtime storekeeper to stop selling tobacco products in his store.

"I felt guilty with every pack of cigarettes I sold," Mosby said.

In a public display, Mosby declared his decision not to sell cigarettes anymore. The drop in sales eventually led Mosby to lose his business.

Now that he is teaching these classes, Mosby said the feeling of helping people is very compelling. "I feel so good because I'm adding years to peoples' lives," Mosby said.

Other members of the active Asbury congregation haven't been idle when it comes to smoking cessation tactics or thwarting young people from lighting up.

Alicia Blake, an aspiring seminarian, was the administrator of four grants totaling $8,750 that the church applied for and received from the cigarette restitution money awarded to Maryland via tobacco lawsuit settlements.

"The weekend of Aug. 24 to 25, we had a youth explosion and back-to-school bash," Blake said. "We were trying to promote a positive image but we also stressed there are other things to do besides smoking to fit in."

Another grant-funded effort was T-shirts featuring the church logo on the front and the message, "Don't Choke Your Spirit - The Lord Is In Your Holy Temple" on the back.

A women's smoking cessation breakfast held in May was quite successful, as was a poster contest that led to the winning entry being emblazoned on a Prospect Avenue billboard during the month of August.

Lawrence A. Staten's talents are displayed on that billboard, Blake said. The other two winners in their age groups were Chris Monroe and Rebecca Dintaman.

The grants were administered through the Washington County Health Department, Blake said.

"There was a lot of enthusiasm from other churches for our efforts," Blake said, hoping more smoking cessation projects will catch on.

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