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Public Health and Wellness Launches Texting Campaign to Curb Teen Smoking

Tuesday September 21, 2010

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness today unveiled a new program that helps teens stop smoking by means of a device that most of them use each day – their cell phone. ButtOut is a program that sends text messages to teens who sign up to encourage them to stop smoking. There is no cost to sign up for the program, but those who enroll need to have unlimited text plans with their cell phone provider to avoid any charges.

“According to a CDC report released earlier this year, Kentucky ranks the worst of all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the percentage of youth ages 12 – 17 who smoke,” said Metro Public Health and Wellness Director Dr. Adewale Troutman. “We know that kids who smoke want to stop, said Metro Public Health and Wellness Director Dr. Adewale Troutman. ButtOut gives us another tool to help young people overcome their nicotine addiction.”

While the service is open to any smoker with a mobile phone that can receive text messages, ButtOut is especially designed for teens. They will receive three messages each day that will encourage them to stop smoking. Examples of messages include, “U may feel mad, sad, anxious, sleepy or cranky. U may have headaches or nightmares. THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY!” and, “Tobacco addiction includes using cigs, cigars, black n milds, bidis, kreteks and dip. They all are dangerous and give you cancer.”

Teens can sign up for the free service by texting KY to 30644. They can also sign up by visiting www.ButtOut Louisville.com or by phoning 574-STOP (7867). There is also a “Butt Out Louisville” Facebook page.

B-Stille of the Kentucky-based hip hop group Nappy Roots will help to promote the free service with radio messages, media interviews and appearances throughout the community. He said, “I’m happy to be working to help kids to stop smoking. ButtOut has a real chance to get through to kids because they are constantly texting on their cell phones. Texting is part of their daily routine.”

Butt Out Squads at Iroquois and Fern Valley high schools will promote the program at high school football games and other school events. The specially trained cadre of high school students will approach their peers who are smoking at the games and encourage them to sign up for ButtOut. The Butt Out squad will give out incentives such as sling backpacks and cell phone lanyards to encourage teens to sign up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that smoke daily said that they have tried to quit, but only 12% were successful. Teen smokers typically cannot use tobacco replacement products such as nicotine patches or gum because these products have not been approved for use by those under age eighteen