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YEP! asks people to quit smoking

Thursday was the annual Great American Smoke-Out, a day when people who smoke try to avoid smoking for at least one day.

At Demopolis High School, the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP!) helped to drive home the point that smoking is not just harmful to your health but also shortens the lives of those in school who are starting to smoke.

“We passed out bracelets and pencils,” said Michaela Lomax. “We talked to students about what day it was, the Great American Smoke-Out. The mayor has signed a proclamation officially making this Thursday a day for Demopolis to be smoke-free.

“We’ve had some kids tell us that they told their mom or their dad, and their parents were surprised that they had started smoking.”

Encouraging people to stop smoking for one day may help them to quit for good.

“Statistics have shown that if you can get a person to quit for one day, that starts a process for a lifetime to eliminate smoking,” said Loretta Wilson, the director of the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority’s anti-smoking program. “If a person allows us to hold their hand for one day, we are committed to holding that hand through the entire process.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health has a toll-free number to help those wanting to quit smoking. People can call 1-800-QUIT-LINE to get that help.

YEP! Set up a table in the main hallway of Demopolis High School with information about the harmful effects of smoking.

“We’re hoping that, every Friday, students will be allowed to do a health fact or smoking fact as an extension of the Great American Smoke-Out,” Wilson said.

Quitting smoking is not easy, but groups like YEP! are encouraging people to not start and helping them find ways to quit if they should start.