By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
If you smoke, the Community Enrichment Organization Adolescent Parenting Program (APP) is asking you to quit for at least one day.
The teenagers are joining the annual American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout in a day that is set aside every year on the third Thursday of November by ACS to urge smokers to quit smoking for at least one day, but preferably forever. APP is asking each citizen to "Adopt a smoker."
The teenage girls are using the idea as its community service project. They have already adopted at least one smoker.
"I'm not going to light up because the girls convinced me to," said Byron Hall. "I've been trying to stop anyway. I've slowed down. I only smoke at night. I'm considering quitting now because it's like a cancer cluster going on around here."
Today, about one in five United States adults smoke cigarettes (more than 43 million people) and nearly 16 million people smoke tobacco in cigars or pipes, according to the ACS. The ACS also reported smoking is responsible for nearly one in three cancer deaths, and one in five deaths from all causes. Another 8.6 million people live with serious illnesses caused by smoking.
The teenagers are trying to do their part to prevent anymore Edgecombe County citizens from becoming listed in one of those startling statistics. Today they will spread the message at the monthly county Unity Breakfast, pass out flyers that acknowledge the event, and give stress relief bags to smokers.
Van Holland knows first hand that it will take more than just the stress relief bag to stop a smoker from puffing. The 38-year-old Tarboro native smoked for 22 years before he was able to call it quits.
"I tried it several times. On Sept. 20, when I was coming homing from a football game at North Edgecombe, I lit my last cigarette. After I finished, I thumped the butt out of the window and I haven't picked up one since. It's hard to quit. There's no doubt about it."
Denise Harrison-Johnson, APP coordinator, said this community service project is close and dear to her heart because she lost a brother two years ago from lung cancer.
"I've always been concerned about smoking, but now it's more touching for me because of my brother," she said. "We want to bring awareness to the situation. That's what it's all about.
"So encourage a a co-worker, a family member or a friend to give up a cigarette for one minute, for one hour, for one day that will help. I will also like for all of Edgecombe County citizens to take a moment of silence to pay tribute to those who loss love one due to cancer related to smoking."