ST. GEORGE — In celebration of the Great American Smokeout, a day to encourage tobacco users to quit smoking, the Washington County Youth Coalition took quit kits to the homeless community Thursday.
“The homeless community has a substantially higher tobacco use rate and are less likely to be informed of the cessation resources available to them,” WCYC Mentor and Southwest Public Health Department Health Educator Kaysha Price said. “The WCYC got materials from the Southwest Public Health Department and delivered (the kits) to the two homeless shelters in our community.”
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 70 to 80 percent of homeless adults in the U.S. smoke tobacco, which compares to 19.8 percent of adult smokers within the general public.
The kits distributed by the WCYC members were contained in water bottles marked with encouraging messages to quit smoking and the waytoquit.org logo. Inside the bottles were things to help the recipients occupy their mouths while attempting to quit, such as gum, mints and toothpicks, Price said.
“There (were) also educational materials on the benefits of quitting smoking,” she said. “There is information on the 1-800-QUIT-NOW line and the WaytoQuit.org website, as well. Both of those resources offer free counseling and cessation medication.”
The WCYC, a volunteer group made up of 45 youth from local schools, works to make the community a safe and healthy place, WCYC President Abigail Dickie said.
The group went to Dixie Care and Share and SwitchPoint Community Resource Center on Thursday to deliver the quit kits and talk to people in the homeless community regarding their project.
SwitchPoint Community Resource Center, located at 948 N. 1300 West in St. George, started helping the homeless community in Washington County in August and had its official open house in October.
The center provides living arrangements and educational programs to help people in the homeless community get back on their feet. SwitchPoint currently houses 60-70 people and also has a waiting list, Pantry Manager Christopher Knowlton said.
SwitchPoint provides case managers that help needy individuals through intervention courses. Knowlton said to aid people in need they may require new medication, counseling, or classes on how to get a job or stay out of jail.
Knowlton said smoking is a tough problem, but if people want to quit, SwitchPoint staff will help their efforts the best way they can.
Besides the effort for the Great American Smokeout, the WCYC has been involved in other projects such as going to Community Anti-drug Coalition Conferences in Washington, D.C., to become educated and bring awareness to others regarding tobacco and acquiring funding from the St. George Police Department to post “no smoking” signs at bus stops throughout St. George, Dickie said.
“Our objective is to educate people,” she said.
Price said kids can volunteer for the WCYC once they are in high school. The group meets three times per week at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, located at 620 S. 400 East in St. George.
Anyone wanting to get involved can contact Price at 435-652-4064 or by email. She said she is privileged to work with the group and its leaders, Logan Reid and Teresa Willie.
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