Volunteers Help Teens Kick the Habit

Debbie Odo
Debbie Odo
Shyla Kaai
Shyla Kaai

IWILEI (KHNL) - Despite all the facts that clearly show smoking is harmful to your health, the number of island teenagers who start smoking is actually on the rise.

There's a program, here in Hawaii, that looks to help teens kick the habit.

But, it needs volunteers to help in the fight.

The "American Lung Association" program is called, "Not On Smoking."

It's designed specifically for teens.

''It's a program to helps them to deal with lifestyle changes," describes program coordinator, Debbie Odo. "In other words, look at nutrition, physical fitness, stress reduction, anger management, so that they can deal with their smoking, too."

The State Health Department says, in 2005, 15 percent of Hawaii's teenagers admitted they smoke.

That's compared to 12 percent, in 2003.

Peer pressure usually gets them into the habit.

Organizers hope peer pressure will now bail them out.

''Students can change the world," says Odo. "You'd be surprised."

Volunteers need to be "tobacco free" for at least six months.

They would then go through a training program, before hitting school campuses.

''When the smokers are sitting in class, all they can think about is that next cigarette," explains Odo. "If we help them deal with the smoking, they'll have less violent episodes."

in addition to the obvious detrimental health issues -- organizers also say smoking cigarettes usually leads to smoking more dangerous drugs.

Shyla Kaai, started smoking when she was 16.

She quit a year later.

Now, she works for the American Lung Association.

''I think it's an awesome program because there's not a lot of people who are going to talk to young people, one-on-one, and tell them why they shouldn't and five them tools," says Kaai.

Tools to stop.

Tools for life.