Ohio LGBT Kids To “Butt Out”

A chilling statistic about local teen smoking is the reason for a new program that’s being rolled out across Ohio Wednesday, starting in Cleveland. Nationally, about 25% of High School aged kids smoke.

The figure is a bit lower in Ohio, where 19 percent of High School students use cigarettes.

But there’s a pocket of teens much more likely to light up. Surveys show that Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender youth have smoking rates about “60% higher” than their straight peers. And in Cleveland, the percentage of gay and lesbian smokers is considerably higher.

That’s what’s behind a new campaign being waged by the Ohio Department of Health, targeting LGBT teens with specific anti-smoking messages.

The new program, called Butt-Out, will be administered through local organizations like the Metro Pride Clinic, PFLAG, and others that have experience working with Lesbian-Gay youth.

Matt Carroll of the Cleveland Department of Health says the city and state already know they are dealing with kids who have proven harder to reach, than their straight peers.

DR. MATT CARROLL: “They need support. They need people to talk to. They need to have a group around them that they can inquire with and be part of a community. So it’s really important that we have this kind of support and it’s great that John Marshall is the place where we’re doing the event.”

John Marshall High School is hosting the introduction because the Cleveland school is the home of one of the largest teen Gay-Straight Alliances in the nation. But the program is regional AS WELL, with city council members from Cleveland Heights and Lakewood supporting the effort.

The Centers for Disease Control says Ohio annually spends $9 billion on smoking – mainly for treating the illnesses it causes. If “Butt-out” proves successful, IT could help save lives AND money, and even become a MODEL project, for the rest of the country.

source: www.wcpn.org

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