By Tina Jacob
Every day in the U.S. about 3,000 kids under the age of 18 will try their first cigarette. Some will immediately decide that it’s not for them but for others; all it takes is one cigarette to develop a lifelong nicotine addiction. Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. and there is a great need for more awareness on the matter.
March 16th was national Kick Butts Day, one of the largest tobacco awareness events in the country, put on by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. According to their website, Kick Butts Day is “a day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up, and seize control against Big Tobacco.” You can also watch a video about Kick Butts Day here. There were over 1,000 independently ran events across the country on this day to help spread the word about the dangers of tobacco and how to reduce tobacco use among youth. Education is one of the most powerful tools we have to help fight back against Big Tobacco and their devious marketing tactics. Currently, Indiana has one of the highest smoking rates in the country with roughly 23% of Hoosiers who are considered smokers.
Here at Little Red Door, we are passionate about educating our youth about the harsh reality of tobacco use through our youth tobacco education program (HURU) in efforts to reduce the percentage of tobacco use in central Indiana. HURU stands for “who are you?” It is an interactive, educational, program aimed toward middle school students where we actively ask them to evaluate their identity when it comes to tobacco use. Over 2,500 students in central Indiana heard our program during the 2015 fall semester and we are on track to reach roughly 3,200 students in the 2016 spring semester. The program focuses on educating students about the risks associated with tobacco use and highlights the marketing tactics that Big Tobacco uses to target their age group. By educating our youth and making them more informed on the topic, we hope to expose Big Tobacco for what it really is and help people make healthy choices. Efforts such as Kick Butts Day and HURU are having a visible effect in lowering smoking rates across the country.
If you or someone you love is looking to kick their tobacco habit, there are several free resources that are available to help! The 1-800-QUIT-NOW and TEXT2QUIT are two resources that are free to Indiana residents and have proven success rates. Both connect you to a quit coach that will help you create an individualized quit plan to give you the best shot at kicking tobacco to the curb. Whether it is picking up the phone to start a quit plan or just spreading the word about the dangers of tobacco, take the first step today to help push Indiana to a healthier and tobacco free future!