Jonesboro, AR (KAIT) - The Newport Special School District has been awarded $75,000 from the Arkansas Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program to decrease and eliminate tobacco use in the schools and the community.
Kevin Pearce, a native of Newport, was hired as a full time Tobacco Grant Coordinator. Pearce says although tobacco use is declining statewide, it's still a problem in Jackson County.
"The statistics show that in our county, Jackson County, 67% of the population is either overweight, no physical activity at all, or a smoker. Combine that with 80% of students age 18 or under begin smoking at that age... it's still a problem."
The district will concentrate most of their efforts on students and faculty, starting with free health screenings.
"We will do one at the beginning of the year and then another towards the end to see if there are any improvements."
Partnering with members of the community, Pearce says the school will distribute educational material about the dangers of tobacco use, hold contests and workshops for youth interaction, and provide information on how to quit smoking to those in need.
"We've come up with a plan to spend the funds and one thing we'll do is set up "YES" teams on every campus. YES stands for 'Youth Extinguishing Smoking'. The purpose will be to reduce youth access to and consumption of tobacco and the related products. They will be the go-to kids about information for students inside the classroom and to those in the community who want to stop smoking."
For more information about the local efforts, contact Kevin Pearce at 870-523-1372 or call the Newport Special School District at 870-523-1311.
To quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).