-Acting Commissioner Dr. George T. DiFerdinando, Jr. announced that
fourth, fifth and sixth-graders statewide are writing letters today
to an important person in their life asking them to quit smoking.
The letter-writing campaign is part of the second annual "Tell
Someone You Love" program, sponsored by the New Jersey Department
of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), and Scholastic, Inc. to mark
the Great American Smokeout on November 15.
initiated this program last year to educate and inform two important
groups: our children, and smokers who may be looking for ways to
quit," said Dr. DiFerdinando. "Children need to know the
important role they can play in another person's life. Children
who take part in 'Tell Someone You Love' learn that smoking is not
only a risk to the smoker, but to those around them. They also learn
that their actions can have powerful results."
program is the first of its kind in the U.S. in which students learn
about smoking and the power of addiction. The students are given
flexibility to write to whomever they wish - a family member, friend,
entertainer, or a sports personality who smokes.
Inc. sent program materials to school administrators, nurses and
11,000 teachers in 1,845 schools. The kits include a detailed program
guide designed to facilitate an interesting and fun classroom session.
Students are then asked to write a letter expressing in their own
words why someone they love should quit smoking. For example, the
letter may emphasize the risk of contracting cancer or heart disease,
the dangers associated with smoke in the home, or the importance
of setting a good example to others.
Victoria Portales of Highland Park, New Jersey received a letter
from her 11-year-old daughter last year. "I've always known
that I needed to quit smoking, but the reality was I just couldn't
or wouldn't do it. That changed when I realized what quitting meant
not just for me, but to my children," says Ms. Portales, the
mother of four. Maria has now been smoke-free since July.
"Tell Someone You Love" program emphasizes the dangers
of tobacco addiction, including the serious health risks posed by
environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) to infants and children. ETS has
been linked to an increased risk of low birth weight, sudden infant
death syndrome, asthma, ear infections, severe lower respiratory
infections, and fire-related injuries. According to the American
Lung Association, ETS causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths
in the U.S. each year in people who don't even smoke.
Tell Someone You Love program is one of many youth-based initiatives
sponsored by DHSS and supported with funds from the Master Settlement
Agreement (MSA) between 46 states and the tobacco industry. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ranked New Jersey
as 11th among the states in committing a substantial portion of
MSA funds for tobacco control programs. New Jersey's Comprehensive
Tobacco Control Program is designed to reduce the sickness, disability
and death among New Jerseyans associated with the use of tobacco
and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. All Tell Someone You
Love letter recipients will receive information about New Jersey's
free and low cost quit-smoking resources, including New Jersey QuitnetSM,
New Jersey Quitline and New Jersey Quitcenters.
Jersey's QuitnetSM, Quitline and Quitcenters
Jersey Quitnet, www.nj.quitnet.com,
is a FREE innovative online resource that provides comprehensive,
individually tailored smoking cessation options, peer support, and
access to the advice of trained counselors. Registered New Jersey
Quitnet users can access an array of quitting guides to help plan
a quitting strategy, referrals to local programs, and information
about treatments 24 hours a day - seven days a week.
Jersey Quitline, 1-866 NJ-STOPS (1-866-657-8677), offers toll free
telephone counseling in 26 languages Monday through Friday from
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trained counselors
work with callers at every stage in the quitting process, developing
treatment plans that meet the needs of the individual.
Jersey Quitcenters, the latest addition to New Jersey's customized
smoking cessation services, are counseling clinics with services
available on a sliding fee scale according to income. They are currently
located at 15 sites throughout the state. People can call NJ Quitline
or log onto NJ Quitnet to find a location near them.
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