Grant will help young people get, and keep, tobacco out of their lives
The Rowan County Health Department has received a Community and Schools Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Initiative grant totaling $300,000.
The Phase III grant — awarded by the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission — is to be used over the next three years to support the expansion of community and school-based initiatives designed to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco, help youth already using tobacco to quit and minimize youth exposure to second-hand smoke.
"We are excited about the future and anticipate considerable success in further reducing youth tobacco use and lessening youth exposure to second-hand smoke," said Dr. Jim Cowan, Allied Heath Services director for the health department.
Having previously received Phase I and Phase II grants from the Health and Wellness Trust Fund, the Rowan Health Department and its partners are effectively reducing the burden of tobacco on young people.
Through the efforts of youth tobacco prevention club members at six middle schools and two high schools, cigarette smoking among middle school students dropped significantly from 13.5 percent in 2003 to 10.2 percent in 2005.
Current smoking rates among 10th graders has decreased to a lesser degree from 24 percent in 2003 to 22.7 percent in 2005.
With additional funds from the Health and Wellness Trust Fund, the health department, in partnership with the Youth Services Bureau and Rowan-Salisbury Schools, has the resources needed to sustain youth tobacco prevention club activities in local middle schools, expand the recently-established Youth Tobacco Prevention Council, achieve greater reductions in tobacco use among area middle and high school youth and increase the number of local organizations voluntarily choosing to offer a smoke-free environment to youth and their families.
The Youth Tobacco Prevention Council, facilitated by the Youth Services Bureau and composed of local high school students, is dedicated to not only reducing tobacco use among their peers, but also decreasing youth exposure to second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoke is a poisonous mix of chemicals that contribute to a number of problems ranging from childhood asthma, pneumonia, ear infections and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) to decreased math, reading, logic and reasoning skills among children.
"The Smoke Free Rowan Coalition, of which the health department is a member, looks forward to uniting with the Youth Tobacco Prevention Council, the Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and Healthy Rowan! to promote the Kids Breathe Free In Our Smoke Free Environment campaign," Cowan said.
The campaign encourages establishments such as restaurants, schools, places of worship and other organizations frequented by youth to voluntarily adopt indoor smoke-free policies leading to the protection of youth and their families from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Visit www.SmokeFreeRowan.org for more information about Rowan County's Kids Breathe Free Campaign and a list of local establishments providing a healthy, smoke-free environment.
Youth and adults alike who use tobacco and want to quit can get free help from trained tobacco quitting specialists by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), North Carolina's new Tobacco Use Quitline.