Grant aims to help smokers

ALA gives high school money to aid students who smoke

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Steamboat Springs High School is the recipient of an American Lung Association grant it hopes will help students who are addicted to tobacco kick their habits.

The grant will provide high school health teacher Lonn Clementson and middle school basic life skills teacher Ann Keating with training under the ALA's "N-O-T: Not on Tobacco" program. The grant also will fund the costs of the kits used in the program and substitute teachers for the district on days when Clementson is busy with the program.

Clementson said he hoped the voluntary program for students addicted to cigarettes would attract 20 students. SteamboatCARES survey results dealing with tobacco use at the high school were not immediately available.

"We're trying to provide the means where they can break an addiction and make a healthier choice," Clementson said.

High school students take semester-long classes that deal with issues such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco, he said, but many students choose risky behaviors.

"It's frustrating because you can do everything you can to let kids know about risks," Clementson said. "It's their choice, but I care enough, and others care enough where we'll offer programs that will give them another chance at another choice."

The N-O-T program is a 10-session, gender-sensitive voluntary program designed for students who want to quit or cut back on their smoking habits. The program was made specifically for teens and has been successful at nearly 70 Florida schools, according to the ALA.

N-O-T is nonpunitive for students volunteering for the program, and it incorporates life- management skills to help teens deal with stress, decision-making and peer and family relationships.

Students who volunteer for the program won't be judged for their decisions to use tobacco, Clementson said.

Clementson and Keating will travel to Eagle County sometime in November or December for a one-day N-O-T training session, after which the program will begin at the high school.

The program won't be fully implemented at the middle school, Keating said.

"It's designed for high school (students), but there may be a need for it for a couple kids at the middle school," she said. "I'm getting trained just in case."

Statistics reveal that most adolescents try smoking for the first time during middle school, Keating said.

"We realized this fall we had nothing in place to help kids who want to stop (smoking)," she said.

Every day, nearly 5,000 kids ages 11 to 17 smoke their first cigarettes, according to the ALA. That means 2 million adolescents start smoking each year, one-third of whom eventually will die from smoking-related illnesses.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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