EASTERN – Floyd County Health Department’s TOP (Teen Outreach Program) visited Allen Central High School on Tuesday to teach freshmen about the dangers of tobacco. TOP is led by Floyd County Health Department Community Outreach Coordinator Leighann Newsome and registered nurse Annice Welch. The program teaches students about different health-related topics and is held one day each week.
“It is not my job to tell students what to think or what decisions to make,” said Newsome. “It is my job to give them information that is accurate and up to date so they can make informed, educated decisions for themselves.”
As part of Kick Butts, students in the TOP class made posterboards to display in the hallway at Allen Central High School. The posterboards contained information and illustrations of the effects of smoking tobacco and using smokeless tobacco.
“This class really made me stop and think,” said Allen Central High School student Emily Case. “The boy in the video we watched had only been using smokeless tobacco for a few years when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was a senior and had to have half of his tongue removed and eventually all of his tongue removed. It made me want to cry.”
“I think the TOP class gets us prepared for the future, said ACHS student Kamryn Webb. “We learn coping strategies to use if we are confronted with peer pressure to smoke or use smokeless tobacco.”
The Center for Disease Control lists smoking as the leading cause of preventable death leading to almost 500,000 deaths in the United States annually. It is not only cigarettes and smokeless tobacco that are harmful. Secondhand smoke is also hazardous. It kills nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. each year. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including at least 69 that cause cancer.
The Floyd County Health Department offers Smoking Cessation programs free of charge. For more information on the Smoking Cessation Program at the Floyd County Health Department, call (606) 886-2788.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.