Anti-smoking campaign targets women, teens
You've seen the advertisements and the name: Tobacco Free Amarillo is everywhere.
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, TFA revealed results of its second-year campaign to end smoking in Amarillo. The campaign targeted and surveyed pregnant women and youth smokers, two focus groups TFA said are essential to reach, according to Mary Coyne, public relations director for the group.
"Our studies found that 48 percent of Amarillo's high school students were smoking," Coyne said. "We've brought those numbers way down."
Coyne said the Amarillo Hospital District is the only one in the state using grant money for prevention programs. TFA's second year of funding was provided by a $250,000 grant from the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Rebecca Robinson, TFA chief evaluator, said TFA's efforts target community, cessation, schools, and media. Robinson said that by 2010, TFA hopes to reduce adolescent use by 19 percent; adult use by 12 percent; first-time users by 12 to 17 percent; and pregnant women by 12 percent in Amarillo.
Survey results from middle and high school students and pregnant women, as well as focus groups, brought perspective to the program, with adolescents saying they see little change from TFA efforts.
However, parents and teachers influence their behaviors in the face of a tobacco-inundated media culture. In fact, TFA volunteer Dr. James K. Luce said half of smokers since the 1950s admit to beginning use because of what they see in movies. Robinson said not only do those surveyed remember tobacco commercials for or against use, but also remember exactly who they see using tobacco in movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Therefore, one of TFA's larger projects is to reduce use in media.
Robinson said adolescents respond better to youthful speakers against tobacco use, learning about poisons in tobacco. And tobacco use among pregnant women can result in unhealthy babies
According to survey results, 19 percent of pregnant women smoke, with 33 percent trying to quit while pregnant.
One of TFA's outreach programs, cessation classes, resulted in at least 60 percent of participants quitting for a short time, and 23 percent of those had remained smokeless for a year.
Most of the cessation participants who restarted did so within the first three months following the class.