Clearing The Air
83% of Gardner youth choose not to smoke
News Staff Writer
Published in the Gardner News 6/16/2015 7:21:00 AM
GARDNER - Smoking is no longer the norm.
That’s the message Baby’s Breath Project of GVNA HealthCare and the Gardner Community Action Committee are hoping to impress on people through 1,000 stickers on pizza boxes.
Courtesy photoGardner Community Action Team coordinator Lauren Saunders places stickers on pizza boxes as part of a social norming campaign with the Baby’s Breath Project.
“The social norming campaign was designed to engage the community to participate in outreach programs that will empower the community to diminish the number of teens and young mothers who are choosing to smoke,” said Baby’s Breath Project Coordinator Therese LaRose.
The stickers state “83 percent of Gardner youth choose not to smoke,” a statistic that the Gardner Community Action Team tabulated through surveys of city high school students. They were placed on delivery boxes at Papa Gino’s, West Broadway Pizza, Garden Pizza and Sorrento’s Pizza.
“It was rewarding to work with these local business to promote a healthier lifestyle choice to the community,” Ms. LaRose said. “We are grateful to each and every business who embraced this project and worked with us to create a successful social norming movement.”
Social norming is a strategy that GCAT — a community group trying to reduce tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse — has been employed for years.
“The success of social norms campaigns is measured over time so it’s hard to give you some quick hard facts, but I think the proof is in the numbers over time,” said GCAT coordinator Lauren Saunders. “Although numbers have gone up in some areas, there are places where we see positive change. For example, in 2011, 91.9 percent of students reported that they believed smoking was harmful. In 2014, 97.6 percent reported this belief.”
So now, Ms. Saunders said, the goal is getting them not to smoke. The social norming campaign targets young people to keep them from starting by showing them they would be in the minority.
This work is being reinforced by the work that the Baby’s Breath Project, funded by the Health Foundation of Massachusetts, is doing at the Gardner Academy for Learning and Technology.
There, Ms. LaRose is working with students to help them quit smoking and support students who choose not to.
Baby’s Breath is also working with pregnant women to help them quit through Heywood Hospital.
The program is free for expectant mothers.
Gardner has the highest rate of pregnant women smokers in the state, according to health assessments.
“The social norming campaign was designed to engage the community to participate in outreach programs that will empower the community to diminish the number of teens and young mothers who are choosing to smoke,” said Ms. LaRose. “We hope that our efforts will help bring the Gardner community and local businesses together working towards a common goal.”
For more information about Baby’s Breath Project, visit gvnahealthcare.org.