National Kick Butts Day is next Wednesday but the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department will be visiting local schools for the next two weeks educating students on the dangers of tobacco and encouraging them to quit.
The department will be hosting its annual Kick Butts Day event during student’s lunch times at all three school systems beginning on Monday at Fairview High School. Fairview Middle School will follow Tuesday, Boyd County High School on Wednesday, Boyd County Middle School on Thursday, Paul G. Blazer High School on Friday and George M. Verity Middle School on March 27.
Health educator and registered nurse Cathy Anderson said the Kick Butts exhibit is a table display that shows students all the different poisons that are in tobacco. It includes the infamous jar of tar, which students who take part in the agency’s Tobacco Free Academy, always seem taken in by.
There is also an expiratory carbon dioxide monitor students can use, which will tell them the levels of poisons they breathe out. The scale goes from zero to 22. Most individuals who don’t smoke or are not exposed to secondhand smoke at home, said Anderson, will register very low on the scale. Heavy smokers top out around 22 and a light smoker is around a 9, she said.
“Every once in a while you will have a child that blows out like they are a light smoker,” said Anderson, explaining many times the student is a non-smokers who is exposed to heavy secondhand smoke at home.
The table display, said Anderson, “is all voluntary. There is no pressure on that. They can come up to the table if they want to.”
Students will help with the display and often times help attract students to it, she added. At Fairview Middle, the Terrific Teen Service Club will assist her. The Boyd County Branch of the Kentucky Youth Council Volunteer and Service Group will help at BCHS while the Teen Titans Service Club will assist at BCMS.
“I always want to stop a child from smoking rather than go back and help them quit,” said Anderson. Statistics show that if children are non-smokers at age 18, they are more likely to remain tobacco free for life.
Kentucky typcially leads the nation in the number of smokers, said Anderson. According to the agency, 24.1 percent of high school students in Kentucky smoke and that 14.1 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by Kentucky youth each year. In Kentucky, 6,100 children under 18 become new daily smokers each year.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.