TEENz247 turns 25th Annual Smokeout into month-long event

TEENz247 turns 25th Annual Smokeout into month-long event


Are you ready to go 24 hours without cigarettes? That’s what the Great American Smokeout is all about.

Since nearly one in five deaths in the U.S. can be directly attributed to tobacco, on Nov. 15, the American Cancer Society asked all Americans who use tobacco to stop using for at least one day. If you use the 25th Great American Smokeout to quit smoking, by next year, your risk of coronary heart disease will be half that of a smoker’s, and your lung function will increase up to 30 percent. Now is the best time to quit.

Each year on the third Thursday in November, the American Cancer Society (ACS) organizes the Great American Smokeout. According to the ACS, more Americans try to quit smoking on that day than any other day of the year, including New Year’s Day.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the annual event, which falls on Nov. 15. Ten million Americans are expected to participate by smoking less or quitting. TEENz247 is teaming up with area schools to help celebrate this milestone anniversary.

Throughout the entire month of November, the teen website will host a series of school-based programs designed to encourage smoke-free lifestyles. Representatives of the Winnebago County Health Department, the site’s sponsor, will be on hand with tobacco education and prevention materials, information about the N-O-T program and many free giveaways.

“Nearly all first use of tobacco occurs before high school graduation. TEENz247 is committed to educating young people about the dangers of smoking so that they never start, and helping those who do smoke to quit,” explained Sheila Hill, coordinator of the county’s N-O-T (Not On Tobacco) program. N-O-T is a voluntary teen smoking cessation program implemented at high schools in Winnebago County with the assistance of the health department.

So far, the following schools have signed up to participate in TEENz247 “Smokeout Month” activities this month: East High School (Nov. 9), Rockford Environmental Science Academy (Nov. 13), Barbour Middle School (Nov. 15) and West Middle School (Nov. 30). Additional locations may be added.

“Clearly, smoking is a dangerous habit,” Hill said. “Every time you smoke a cigarette, you’re taking minutes off your life. Unfortunately, the message that smoking is a very dangerous habit is not reaching teens at the grassroots level. We wanted the 25th Smokeout to serve as a springboard for getting out to Winnebago County teens all month long. Our goal is to increase the number of students who take the first step to becoming smoke free.”

The health department hopes the TEENz247 programs will raise smokers’ awareness of the many benefits to be gained by quitting smoking.

“Past Great American Smokeout events have made a tremendous difference in changing people’s attitudes toward smoking,” Hill pointed out. “It’s a great way to prove to yourself that you can quit for a day. And if you can quit for one day, you can surely quit for a week or a month or a year. We want to help young smokers make the important decision to quit, and support them in their efforts.”

Hill encourages young people to use the Smokeout Month to learn about TEENz247 and its mission.

“TEENz247 contains one of the most extensively researched collections of anti-smoking information on the Internet,” she said. “It goes hand in hand with our N-O-T program efforts. N-O-T participants gain valuable life skills that can improve their ability to make smart choices, deal with people, and cope with change. It helps teens take charge of their lives and gives them the tools they need to make healthy decisions.”

For more information about TEENz247 or the N-O-T program, call 962-1200.

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