Grant approved to fight teen smoking
Teen-age smoking may take another hit with the approval of a grant to keep kids from lighting up.
The Green River Regional Health Council approved a grant for $29,600 to fund the Area Teen Advocacy Council for the current school year. The council, formed last year, will arm youths with information about the dangers of tobacco and prepare them to be mentors in their schools.
"Research shows that younger teens will listen when an older teen tells them something," said Mary Anne Long, research and project development coordinator at the Green River District Health Department. Long is a member of a health council subcommittee that applied for the grant.
Each participating school will send three students and an adult to a training workshop where they will learn about the dangers of tobacco use, pressures that lead to smoking and techniques to resist. Once armed with the information, they will learn how to encourage others not to start smoking or to stop if they have. And the teens will develop initiatives tailored to their schools' specific needs.
No date or location has been set yet for the training workshop, Long said.
The council plans to recruit 10 students from each participating school and successfully complete at least one initiative. Participating schools include Daviess County Beacon Central, Owensboro High School, Owensboro Catholic High School and high schools in Hancock, McLean, Ohio and Henderson counties. Also participating are Henderson County North and South Junior High Schools. Long said she thought Daviess County High School would participate as well, but she has not received a formal reply.
The council will meet in the middle and at the end of the school year to evaluate the program, Long said.
Each day, more than 6,000 youths age 18 or younger try their first cigarette, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 3,000 become daily smokers. And one in three who are regular smokers will die of smoking related illnesses, the CDC says.
The need for smoking prevention programs was reinforced when a recent University of Kentucky health assessment showed that 54 percent of people in the seven-county Green River area smoked. The Green River area includes Daviess, Hancock, Ohio, McLean, Webster, Union and Henderson.
The grant, a joint effort of several local agencies, will be administered through the Henderson County community coalition, H.O.P.E. Inc., a community-based group of residents that has raised funds for prevention activities. Founded in the 1988, the group has sponsored forums to tackle the issue of youth drug abuse in Henderson.
The Owensboro area teen council was formed last year with a grant from the American Cancer Society and tackled several forms of drug abuse, Long said. However, some schools did target tobacco use. Students conducted surveys and developed curriculums to cut the numbers of teen smokers.
"We felt very good about it because each school completed an intervention," Long said.
The health council, which received the funds from the state's tobacco settlement money, also approved $9,900 for programs to educate pregnant women about the dangers of using tobacco and secondhand smoke. The Green River Area District Health Department will administer that grant.
Also approved was $6,000 for a school nurse program aimed to curb teen-age smoking. Administered by Owensboro Mercy Health System, the program will target students in the Daviess County and Owensboro school systems as well as at Owensboro Catholic High School.
Lydia Carrico, (270) 691-7298