Pilot program addresses teen smoking issue
More school personnel will join the fight in October to eliminate or reduce teen smoking in central Louisiana.
School personnel in Rapides, Grant and LaSalle parishes participated in the pilot Not-On-Tobacco program last year.
The N-O-T program, which was developed by the American Lung Association and funded by The Rapides Foundation, is designed to help students stop or reduce smoking.
Students will be allowed to voluntarily enroll in the program, which is offered once a week for 10 weeks.
"There are a lot of programs out there to prevent drug use, but I haven't seen many that addressed teen smoking," said William Irwin, a Holy Savior Menard High School N-O-T teacher.
In the first year of the program, 70 teens signed up and 45 completed it, Program Coordinator LaRunda Hobbs said.
She said 28 of the 45 students reduced the amount of tobacco they smoked, while 17 quit.
"A big teen-health issue in Louisiana is tobacco use," Hobbs said. "Teens in central Louisiana are comparable with teens throughout the nation to smoke by age 13."
The program also addresses stress management.
"Teens seem to be stressed about (things such as) employment and school," Hobbs said.
The program is good because it is confidential, said Jennifer Rasberry, the Christus St. Frances Cabrini School-Based Health Center nurse at Northwood High School.
"(The student) has to want to quit," she said.
Iradean Dupar-Gatson, the guidance counselor at Peabody Magnet High School, said the program works because the schools show they are concerned about students' health.
"Let's stop them from (smoking), before their lungs get black," she said.
Menard teacher Beth Carstens said most students are surprised the school addresses the teen smoking issue.
"(The program) is needed," she said.
Students can look for fliers in the hallways about the program.