Community members raise awareness for ‘Great American Smokeout’

Published 4:54 pm Sunday, November 19, 2017

Promoting healthy alternatives to tobacco products was the name of the game Thursday for the Carter County Health Department and Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition/TNSTRONG Youth Board.
Representatives were posted inside the Elizabethton Food City Thursday afternoon for a tobacco take back event, in conjunction with Grow Carter County, while offering alternatives to smoking to raise awareness for the Great American Smokeout.
Each year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the country participate in the Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, to encourage others to stop smoking for one day in the hopes of starting a journey to steering clear of products.
Tobacco take back events are just one of the different tools provided by Grow Carter County, a grassroots initiative comprised of different organizations, including the health department.
Grow Carter County received $1,000 to be used for vouchers. When a resident participates in an event, they can give a tobacco product worth $5 in value and trade it in for a $10 gift certificate to Food City and a healthy snack.
While residents participated in the project, youth board members Reece Townsend and Jackson Humphreys were able to obtain multiple signatures for the drive to make it unlawful for someone to drive in a car, while smoking, with someone under the age of 18 years old.
“A lot of people haven’t realized that this isn’t a law in Tennessee,” said Jaime Lawson, health department educator. “We’ve had people ask questions and sign. It’s all about raising awareness and the youth board members have done a great job today talking with the public.”
Seeing the teens take the initiative with the project has been a sight to see, according to fellow health educator Kelli Humphreys.
“They are very driven,” Humphreys said about the entire board. “They aren’t afraid to go up to someone and ask them to sign. They want to see kids stay healthy when driving with their loved ones.”
The board is working to gather 10,000 signatures for a petition to have a law in place to make it illegal to smoke in a car with anyone under the age of 18 years old. Currently, the board has between 400 to 500 signatures.
Citizens wanting to sign the petition can stop by Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition in downtown Elizabethton or the health department.
And while Thursday netted success, the health department is continuing its daily drive to help exclude tobacco products from residents’ lifestyles.
Along with offering free tobacco cessation classes to Elizabethton Housing Agency residents and free nicotine replacements, the health department has netted success with the “Baby and Me Tobacco Free” program.
Free to the public, the program is geared to mothers who smoke. Participants have the opportunities to receive vouchers for diapers and support for the child every month for the child’s first year.
Individuals can participate in either free nicotine replacement or the “Baby and Me” program by appointments through the department. To learn more about the different projects offered, either visit the department’s office or call (423) 543-2521.

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