SIKESTON -- The Scott County Health Department and local teenagers have teamed up just in time to combat the dangers of smoking with a program called Smokebusters.
Last week the Oran R-3 Junior High Student Council and the Scott County Central Junior High Beta Club were among the first groups trained to begin Smokebusters, a three-year program aimed to influence youth to become critical thinkers, to avoid tobacco use and to become advocates for a tobacco-free environment, according to Scott County Health Department Public Educator Brenda Freed.
Developed by the Northeast Missouri Cancer Control Coalition, Smokebusters uses a three-phase approach that will assist the schools and community organizations in helping to educate Missouri schools and communities in tobacco use prevention. For first-year Smokebusters, Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) school teams are established to commit to the three-year project. The objective is to empower teens to stay tobacco free, to serve as role models for younger children and peers and to become agents for change in the community.
In the second year, Stop Tobacco Among Many People (STAMP) youth focus on working with the media. During the final year, Busting Big Tobacco, youth are empowered to ask for environmental and policy change at target sites based on knowledge gained in prior to workshops.
Smokebusters is sponsored in Southeast Missouri by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Southeast Cancer Control Coalition, Breathe Easy Southeast Missouri Coalition and local county health departments through a variety of grants, contributions ad partnering agencies.
Freed said the health department is looking for more schools to take part in Smokebusters. For more information, contact Freed at the Scott County Health Department at (573) 471-4044.