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Cancer Coalition eyes teen tobacco use

South Georgia Cancer Coalition Health and Education Coordinator Kimberly Scott tells the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County last week that the organization was alarmed by the rate of tobacco usage among teens in the sixth through 12th grades in the coalition’s 31-county service area. The coalition is striving to make all campuses and school-related activities tobacco-free.

South Georgia Cancer Coalition Health and Education Coordinator Kimberly Scott tells the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County last week that the organization was alarmed by the rate of tobacco usage among teens in the sixth through 12th grades in the coalition’s 31-county service area. The coalition is striving to make all campuses and school-related activities tobacco-free.

ALBANY, Ga. — South Georgia Cancer Coalition Health and Education Coordinator Kimberly Scott is concerned about the rate of tobacco usage among teens in the sixth through 12th grades in the organization’s 31-county service area.

“State-wide the average of tobacco usage in students in the sixth through 12th grades is 8.6 percent,” Scott recently told members of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. “In Dougherty County the usage rate is eight percent, but in Early County it’s 12.5 percent and in Lee County the average is 13.4.

“Many of these kids are middle school students. Statewide, tobacco use costs adult Georgians more than $1.8 billion per year in health care costs and lost productivity.”

Scott said the Cancer Coalition would like to stem the epidemic early, but added that just three school systems in the group’s service area — Dougherty, Miller and Worth Counties — have instituted tobacco-free policies on campuses and at all school-related activities.

“Tobacco use is a generational social norm in south Georgia,” Scott said. “It’s due to a number of factors such as a lack or recreational activities. The kids are bored and tobacco often comes into play. Some of these kids are even getting their tobacco from parents and relatives.”

Scott added that with smoking comes the increased risk from second-hand smoke.

“There is no such thing as good second-hand smoke,” she said. “We are seeing an increased risk from asthma and other respiratory conditions.”

According to the group’s website, reducing the number of people who get cancer and the number of people who die from cancer is why the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia exists.

“The work we do in the community is important to better understand why cancer rates are high in our region and how to best prevent cancer.” the site states. “The Cancer Coalition’s mission, projects, and funding are all focused completely on south Georgia.

“Our goal is to ensure more people learn about cancer and receive the services they need, so fewer of our family and friends are affected by cancer.”