Special School District Receives $75,000.00 for Tobacco Control Efforts in Newport

Arkansas Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program funds Local Schools to Continue Tobacco Use Decline in Arkansas

Newport, Ark. (August 19, 2009) – The Arkansas Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program has funded the Newport Special School District $75,000 to continue efforts to decrease and eliminate tobacco use in the Newport Schools and in the community.  Tobacco use rates have been declining statewide, and local coalitions such as the Newport Special School District play an integral part in preventing youth from starting and helping tobacco users quit.

“Coalitions and other grantees are a critical part of TPCP’s tobacco control strategy,” said Dr. Carolyn Dressler, TPCP director.  “They act as our hands and feet in local Arkansas communities, interacting and helping real citizens and providing feedback on how we can improve our efforts statewide.”

The Newport Special School District has experienced growth since its collaboration with TPCP.  The district received funding on July 1 and, as part of the grant, has hired a full time Tobacco Grant Coordinator, Kevin Pearce, a native of Newport. Pearce along with administrators and health teachers have attended several training seminars held by the Arkansas Department of Health and Coordinated School Health professionals. The district will be concentrating most of their efforts and projects towards students and faculty during the upcoming school year.

Coalitions and partners will work with local schools and businesses to hold contests, workshops and other activities that teach Arkansas youth about the dangers of tobacco.  They will distribute information to tobacco users about services available to help them quit, and act as tobacco control advocates, raising awareness about the burden tobacco use places on the user, their families and all Arkansans.

With the new allotment of funds, the Newport Special School District has developed a work plan to most effectively spend the dollars. Their plans for this funding year include assembling a “Youth Extinguishing Smoking” team on each campus whose purpose will be to reduce youth access to and consumption of tobacco and tobacco-related products; provide classroom instruction to students, faculty, and community members regarding the effects of tobacco on the body as well as proven ways to help them to quit smoking; utilize guest speakers to share personal testimonies on how tobacco negatively influenced their health and lives; expand the existing partnership with Stamp Out Smoking and the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas to help provide cessation resources and to increase local awareness of the negative effects of tobacco use. In addition to the plans, the Newport Special School District will administer free health screenings for students, faculty, and parents during parent teacher conferences to help increase overall community health, as well as, form a new District Wellness Committee that will consist of  school staff, students, parents, health professionals, business and community leaders, whose main purpose will be to evaluate the effectiveness of the schools health policies and to implement new strategies to improve both the education and health status of all the young people in the school district.

For more information about local coalition efforts, contact Kevin Pearce at 870-523-1372. To quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669).