Jennifer Olendorff, Janelle Baalke and Pam Howard at the Peninsula Smokefree offices in Soldotna.
They are becoming known as the “Three Smokefree Musketeers,” Janelle Baalke, Jennifer Olendorff, and Pam Howard of the Peninsula Smokefree Partnership. “We have three major goals that we pursue in our health message. Reducing tobacco use and exposure to second hand smoke through education and policy change, preventing the initiation of tobacco use among our youth and adults through education, and promoting quitting and cessation through our quit line and school based programs like NOT and our Tobacco-Free Sports Program,” said Janelle Baalke, project and grant coordinator for the Peninsula Smokefree Partnership. Funds for the group’s efforts are made available in part through the state tobacco tax, “Having a higher rate of tax has reduced a person’s ability to fund their nicotine habit which has increased our quit line calls,” says Baalke.
Smokefree education coordinator Jennifer Olendorff holds a shirt that boldly proclaims how many deaths occur from smoking every day.
The Quitline is a free 24/7 telephone cessation counseling service that offers help to anyone desiring to kick the tobacco habit, “If you need additional help, Peninsula Smokefree Partnership has several free packets or quit kits to supplement the Quitline services,” added Baalke. According Baalke 1,200 people die every day in the U.S. from smoking or exposure to second hand smoke, “We are very passionate about the issue of second hand smoke and are working on a campaign to create smoke free work places and to help with what is called the gauntlet area, the space around the entrance of a building and where you have to park.
Janelle Baalke of Peninsula Smokefree with a "Feel Free to Breath" brochure at their Soldotna office.
The surgeon general has stated that there is no safe level of second hand smoke and that means everyone inhaling second hand smoke is breathing toxic chemicals, 43 of which are known to cause cancer.”
Peninsula Smokefree youth coordinator Pam Howard holds the "Big Butt" information cigarette at their Soldotna office.
One of the Smokefree Partnership’s latest campaigns is called the Tobacco-Free Sports program, “We started this summer with 7 Boys & Girls Club soccer teams and 109 athletes participated. It was so successful that the coaches and parents expressed the desire to have it implemented in the schools and that’s what we are hoping for this semester,” said administrative education coordinator Jennifer Olendorff. The program involves five lessons that are used before a practice or game, “It takes about ten minutes and each lesson has a different focus, one is tobacco facts, dangers of second hand smoke, and why athletes shouldn’t smoke. Each lesson has object lessons that make it interesting for the athlete. We’re after changing the norm through education and convincing young people that it is totally not cool to smoke or use tobacco and that an athlete needs a healthy body that is not addicted to nicotine to be successful,” said Olendorff, who has experienced tobacco related deaths in her family.
Olendorff says she is currently preparing for Red Ribbon Week, October 23rd-31st, “Presently we’re running a poster contest in four area elementary schools and we are very excited about the kids creating posters that we can use to promote the need to stay tobacco free live a healthy life style.”
The newest partner to join the Smokefree Three Musketeers is Pam Howard, who will be taking on the position of youth coordinator, “I’m looking forward to the Great American Smoke Out the third Thursday in November which is a great opportunity to go one day without smoking. I’d like to initiate an adopt a smoker campaign where you can support a friend or family member who is a smoker and adopt them for one day to support them by perhaps taking them to lunch and encouraging them to go just one day without smoking so they’ll see how good they feel after that,” said Howard. For more information about the Peninsula Smokefree Partnership or to find links to other areas of interest you can go to www.peninsulasmokefree.com . To find out about their membership drives call the Smokefree office at 260-3682 or stop by the office in Soldotna next the Acapulco restaurant in the Bridges offices.
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