Time to 'Kick Butts'

County agencies urge inform residents about dangers of smoking

National Kick Butts Day is March 21, and the Grundy County No Tolerance Task Force and Grundy County Health Department are "airing out tobacco's dirty laundry."

The foyer of the Grundy County Administration Building is decked out with clotheslines filled with facts tobacco companies don't tell you. Among the facts, for instance, is an explanation of the chemicals cigarettes contain, like cadmium, which is used in batteries; acetone, which is used in nail polish remover; and arsenic, which is used in rat poison.

When leaving the foyer, visitors are greeted by an information table with a sign that states: "Now that you have seen the signs, ask yourself ... 'Why do I smoke?'"

The hope is people will take a flier on the "Freedom From Smoking" class offered at the health department, according to Paula Goodwin, prevention specialist with NTTF.

"In the class, we talked about the chemicals," Goodwin said, "and these people who have been smoking 20, 30 years didn't realize these chemicals are in there,"

Posters with startling facts, such as that, worldwide, tobacco use kills one person every 6.3 seconds, are displayed throughout the foyer, along with illustrations of the damage it does to a person's body.

The county offered classes to quit smoking years ago, but after that the classes were offered elsewhere. With a grant the health department received, it is offering the classes again. The first one was offered in January. The classes are seven weeks long and meet on Wednesdays. It's $25 to participate and the next session begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11.

The three people who finished the first course in February are still not smoking, Goodwin said.

"We try to give them the tools to deal with why they're smoking, to help them deal with those issues to prevent them from doing it," said Cara Anderson, food program coordinator with the Grundy County Health Department, who also teaches the class.

During the class, they will talk about what they will face while quitting and talk about their triggers. Participants go home with a relaxation CD to use when they feel the need for a cigarette.

Participants learn about the three As — avoid, alter and alternatives. They discuss distracting themselves from the urge by doing something else, or counting until the urge passes, which only takes about two minutes, Goodwin said.

"One of the big things we emphasize in class is the cost of smoking," Anderson said. "Last class, we had someone who had been smoking 50 years, and we showed him what he spent. We try to show them what they can do with that money to reward themselves."

People can sign up for the class by calling Goodwin at (815) 941-3130 or Anderson at (815) 941-3128. People should register by April 9. You must be 18 years old or older to sign up.

Within six hours of quitting, a person's heart rate and blood pressure decrease. And after 12 hours, the lungs work more efficiently, and he or she can do more without becoming short of breath.

The Grundy County Board and Morris City Council will approve proclamations for Kick Butts Day this month, Goodwin said.

Toward the end of the month, Goodwin and Anderson will visit Grundy County schools in order to give presentations to second-, third- and fourth-graders on the dangers of tobacco use.

In second grade, the presentation will concentrate on how to avoid second-hand smoke, Goodwin said. The third-grade program will be similar, but the fourth-grade program will talk about the diseases caused by smoking.

In each grade, they will do hands-on exercises emphasizing their points. In fourth grade, to illustrate the effects of emphysema, kids will run in place for 30 seconds and then breathe through a straw.  

For more tobacco facts, visit tobaccofreekids.org.