Teens can sign up for a text-message service provided by the Health Department. For about ten weeks, they will receive three messages a day that encourage them to quit smoking.
Department director Dr. Adewale Troutman says the program is new, but other cities use text messages for different health programs.
“There are people all over the country trying other mechanisms to use cell phones to reach youth,” he says. “There’s a program for asthmatics, there’s a program for diabetics…all kinds. Because we recognize this is a very, very rich way to be able to reach our youth and communicate with them on these issues.”
The program costs $1,000 per month and about $20,000 to set up. The money came from state grants.
Adult and Spanish-language versions of the service will begin soon. If the text messages are effective, Troutman says the program will be expanded to other parts of Kentucky. The program cost the city about one thousand dollars per month, which will be paid for with a state grant.
Dr. Adewale Troutman says about eight percent of middle school students and 21 percent of high school students smoke, so the city is in need of a smoking-cessation program that can reach teenagers.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2010 statistics, Kentucky ranks the absolute worst of all the states and the District of Columbia in the percentage of youths aged 12 to 17 who smoke, ” he says.