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Kicking Butts and taking names

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By The Staff

By Jimmie Earls

Sun Staff Writer

Members of the Washington County Heartland Youth Coalition were out kicking butts and taking names Saturday morning as part of Kick Butts Day 2009. It was a single-day event designed to promote smoking cessation along with drug and alcohol abuse prevention.

“We’ve had great a response,” said coalition member Wilma Sorrell. “We’re targeting everyone in the community who smokes or don’t smoke. Many have told use they are planning to quit or have done so already, so that’s a great response.”

One of the big reasons people may be looking for a way to stop smoking is the recent rise in state cigarette taxes, along with some manufacturers raising their costs to tobacco outlets.

“The majority of people are saying that it is the higher cigarette taxes, but we have had a few who want to quit for their children or for health concerns,” added Sorrell. “We’re handing out smoking cessation materials. Rodney Mattingly, who is our new health educator at the Washington County Health Department, is starting a Cooper Clayton smoking cessation class soon.”

Among those handing out materials at Ace Place Center were Washington County High School students Mary Kutter, Claire Lutz, Hope Couch, Will Carrico and Katie Carrico. Carrico’s mother Cathy, along with Issac Frye, were also among those spreading the word and handing out promotional items such as free t-shirts and chip clips. Other materials such as pencils and coloring books were handed out to children to teach them to not smoke or take drugs.

Several local kids filled out pledge forms that were on display. Trevor Beaty wrote, "I won't use tobacco because it causes lung cancer." Chloe Danielle Edwards said, "Uh, no, not in a million years." Ashley Spalding vowed, "I'm not going to die from a stupid decision."

“We have found out that the younger we reach them, the more profound of an effect we have on them,” Sorrell said. “Especially the middle school age, sixth, seventh and eighth-graders. If we reach those youths, we have a little bit better of a success rate.”

The coalition was also taking down names of people in the community who support what the Heartland Youth Coalition and the Washington County Community Prevention Center do to educate the public about the ill effects of smoking, drinking and abusing drugs.

For more information about the smoking cessation classes, contact Rodney Mattingly at the Washington County Health Department by calling (859) 336-3989.