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Jerry Aragon Ph.D (Phunny humor Doctor)

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Kids 'Sentenced' To Class to Quit Smoking!
By Jerry Aragon Ph.D (Phunny humor Doctor)   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, February 20, 2012
Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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Don't you just love it."kids are sentenced to a class to quit smoking? I quit smoking in 1970, and I have celebrated over 40 years without any kind of tobacco products. This is one of the best things I've done in my life for myself; those around me, and for my pets, too!

Over the past four years, I have written about 12 articles on quitting and the dangers of smoking, and the reader can find a link at the bottom of this page, and find all the other articles in the group in one place.

Anytime, I get a chance to help someone quit smoking, I'll do it, rather it be someone else's article, as in this case...or one of my own articles describing my experiences. 

The following article was written by Andrea Schoellkoff, a staff writer, of the Albuquerque Journal, and the piece was published in the Albuquerque Journal on January 11, 2011.

The title for the article reads as follows;

'CLEARING THE AIR'  Instead of punishing students for smoking, one charter school is helping them quit'

The article reads:

"If you get caught smoking cigarettes on campus, you will get an automatic suspension at most schools.  But one charter is taking a different approach by offering it teenage smokers a way out.

Rather than the standard three-day suspension, students at the Digital Arts and Technology Academy face an eight-week smoking-cessation class during their lunch hour under a program that began last spring.  Along with support, they learn avoidance strategies like chewing gum or cinnamon toothpicks.  They also view bizarre photos of a 'hairy tongue' from a long-term smoker. 

'That freaked me out,' said 18 year old Eddy Chavez, a former pack-a-day smoker who started when she was 12 years old.  She is now down to four or five cigaretts a day.

School counselor Kristin Reeder said many of the students in the program face other challenges at home, such as financial or personal crises, and smoking is a coping mechanism for them.  The Tobacco Awareness Program is a simple one, Reeder said, and that is part of the reason for its success. 

'It's really where are you at right now,' she said, adding that student goals might be cutting back to three cigaretts a week, going to a party but not bringing a whole pack, or switching brands to something with less tar.  DATA was one of six schools approached last year by the New Mexico Colaition for Charter Schools to conduct the smoking-cessation program through a $30,000 grant from the state's tobacco settlement money. 

Although the grant money ended last summer, DATA has managed to keep the program going with money left over from last year.  The program's push also has academic focus.  Smokers typically average low Cs to high Ds in class and have a shorter attention span than their nonsmoking peers, said Jennifer Malaney, who administered the grant for the coalition. 

DATA started with about 16 kids who had been 'sentenced' to the class, but the program grew by word of mouth to 25-30 students who wanted to stop smoking.  'I was completely overwhelmed with the response,' Reeder said, adding that all of the participants completed the program and either quit or significantly reduced their cigarette intake.

A follow-up effort to see whether the students stayed smoke-free has been discontinued due to lack of funding.  Some of the teens had previously tried nicotine gum or patches.  One even tried a diet of sunflower seeds to keep herself busy. 

But, the group, which Reeder created as a support network rather than a traditional class, offered more, as students tried to start running together to improve their health.  The support seemed to be more effective than suspensions or other methods. 

'It worked real well,' DATA assistant principal Chris Hothkiss said.  'The suspension rate went down and te kids seemed to like it.'  In one group session, students addes up their annual cigarette bill, which is about $2,555 for the pack-a-day smoker.  In another, they talked about whether their parents smoke and knew of their habit.  The students said the techniques help them attend entire classes and focus on the lesson.

Charter helping kids quit smoking

'I've noticed I can concentrate more at the end of the day,' said 17 year old Arthur Dubay, who used to count the minutes until school was out and he could get to his car  to smoke again.  At the end of the last school year, DATA was the only school among the six participating to see success.  The $30,000 grant for the program was discontinued because of the cuts to the tobacco settlement prevention money.  Remaining books and any other materials were moved to the DATA program to try to keep going, Malaney said.

Reeder is still trying everything she can, using her own money for stress ball, gum, play doh, and cinnamon toothpicks at $3 a pack to give as crutches to help students quit. 

Workbooks, given to each student to fill out and make personal observations cost about $5 per student.  The students this year are working with the books leftover from other schools." 


- Tell your children directly that you do not want them to smoke cigarettes.  Give clear, consistent messages;

- Start talking to children about smoking when they are 5 or 6 years old and continue talking about it through high school.  Explain the dangers and unpleasent physical effects;

- Set a good example by not smoking yourself.  Parents who smoke, are likely to have kids who smoke;

- Establish an indoor smoking policy for your home;

- Make sure events children attend are smoke-free;

- Support tobacco-free and prevention programs at school;

- Knew if any of your children's friends smoke and talk about ways to refuse a cigarette;

- If your child has started smoking, understand that teenagers can become addicted to nicotine quickly.  Be patient and supportive as your child tries to quit;

- Avoid threats and ultimatiums if you catch your teen smoking.  Find out the reasons why they are doing it and what changes can be made in his or her life to help the quitting process;

My Two-Cents:  I quit smoking over 40 years ago, and I still had pleanty of friends who don't smoke. To NOT smoke is being COOL!


Parents and teachers around the country, should look at the success of this program and implement something like this in their areas.  Kids don't want to be screamed at or suspended from school or get in any other trouble.  They've just made a mistake in starting to smoke, and they need a little support to work their way out of smoking.  Everyone needs a little help now and then.  I think this is a great idea...but the program is much too late for I said earlier I quit smoking over 40 years ago...

On Monday January 17, the following editorial appeared in the Albuquerque Journal and is entitled;

"Charter School Program Snuffs Out a Bad Habit"  The editorial reads as follows;

"It has always seemed counter-intuative to suspend students for not coming to school.  The same for sending them home for taking a cigarette break.  What, so they can chain smoke in peace without the distractions of a classroom to slow them down? 

The Digital Arts and Technology Academy charter bschool opted to target the deadly habit instead of its practitioners.  Students busted for smoking on campus are signed up for an eight-week smoking cessation class during lunch.  And...get turns out they bring their nicotine-addicted friends to the punishment.

Using its share of a $30,000 grant from the state's tobacco settlement money, the school gives students the tools to quit smoking...from gum and toothpicks to support groups...along with details of the hard-core health risks and math lessons that show pack-a-day habits run $2,555 a year. 

Jennifer Malaney, who administered the grant for the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools, says all 25 to 30 DATA students in the program either quit or cut their cigarette intake.  One girl who started lighting up when she was 12 and had been a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker is down to four or five cigarette a day.

And while Malaney says smokers typically average low Cs to high Ds in class and have shorter attention spans, student Arthur Dubay points out that since he joined the program 'I've noticed I can concentrate more at the end of the day,' instead of counting the minutes until he can get to his car to smoke again. 

Settlement fund money has decreased and the program's grant has expired, yet DATA has kept it going courtesy of counselor Kristin Reeder, who is footing the bill for stress balls, gum, Play-Doh and cinnamon toothpicks to help more students to quit. 

Considering initial results and the nation's emphasis on preventive health care, she deserves thanks.  I would be a real loss to let this program group go up in smoke.'"


I LOVE THIS PROGRAM...and schools all over the country ought to take a look at this, and start a program of their own! 

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