Today is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout.
Alaska Island Community Services is hosting several events meant to promote the importance of living tobacco-free. Addy Esco is the K through 12 tobacco prevention grant coordinator with AICS. She says the first stop for the day will be at Evergreen Elementary.
“They’re all going to get a chance to get to run through an obstacle course called ‘Don’t Let Smoking be an Obstacle’. They’re going to get to run through these giant cigarettes, smoke rings, that kind of thing and have the chance to work together in teams to support one another. We’ll have some open discussion with the kids about what it means to make healthy choices and how to support one another,” she said.
Esco says this is the second year for the obstacle course. She also there will be a short presentation for the K through 5th graders about the importance of making healthy choices. AICS will be working with middle and high school students as well. The students will have a free meal after school.
“We’re also going to be handing out facts about not only the school district’s policy on tobacco use, but some information for the students to take home about how tobacco can their health and their overall well-being. Also, giving them an opportunity to make a pledge to remain tobacco free,” she said.
Esco says working with teenagers and younger students is important because many people start smoking when in high school. But Esco says students in Wrangell’s Public Schools are not the only ones who can take part in the day. She says the American Cancer Society encourages people to use the Great American Smokeout as their quit date. Esco says AICS is offering an incentive for Wrangellites who want to stop smoking.
“If they turn in half a pack of cigarettes either to our main office here at AICS, down in our senior disability office or at Bob’s IGA from 4-6, we’re going to have a table set up with literature about the Alaska Tobacco Quit Line. It’s a great resource for people who are considering quitting or just need some more support and resources. If they turn in half a pack of cigarettes at any of those locations, they’re going to be entered into a raffle for a free turkey,” she said.
She says the turkey is just in time for Thanksgiving and is in honor of a smoker’s decision to quit “cold turkey.” Esco says tobacco use leads to nearly 600 deaths each year in Alaska. More information about the Great American Smokeout is available at cancer.org/smokeout.