Rural Smoking Study Offers Incentives to Participants

By Lura Jackson


Are you a cigarette smoker, or have you ever smoked them, and are you 40 or older? If so, you’re exactly the kind of person that an upcoming study would like to hear from. The University of Southern Maine is conducting the Rural Maine Health Study, led by Erika Ziller and Jean Talbot, and incentives are being offered to any eligible individuals that are able to attend a group discussion in Machias on Monday, June 26th.

Attendees to the group discussion will receive a $40 Hannaford gift card and a $10 Irving gift card, and pizza will be served during the event itself. The most qualified individuals are past or present smokers that are over 40, residents of Washington County, and who don’t go to the doctor very often. If that sounds like you or someone you know, you are invited to register for participation.

The study is being held to gain an understanding of rural Mainers’ perception and ideas of cigarette smoking and lung cancer risks and their experiences with health care providers. The researchers emphasize that participation in the discussion is completely voluntary and you may pass on any questions you don’t wish to answer. Furthermore, it is important to note that this is a discussion/study, not an attempt to change your lifestyle – the researchers are primarily looking for honest input.

Cigarette smoke has steadily been declining in Maine over the past few decades. According to a study by Orzechowski and Walker in 2011, in 1997 there were 101 packs sold per capita in Maine, falling to 65 packs in 2006, and dropping further still to 51 packs in 2011. Despite these overall decreases, Washington and Aroostook counties retain the highest percentages of smokers in the state, with approximately 20 percent of adults in each county continuing to smoke. The rural affinity for smoking is one of the factors that motivated the Rural Maine Health Study.

The discussion will be held on Monday, 26th, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Sunrise County Economic Council, 7 Ames Way in Machias. Pre-registration is required – contact Zach at 228-8247 to do so.