Troy Kennedy is doing his part to help people, especially young people, avoid the dangers of smoking.
He has been leading workshops, including one recently for students at the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives in Opelousas, where he is based.
But Kennedy, the center’s regional coordinator for the Communities of Color Network, said he gives these free talks throughout the 10-parish area the center serves.
“I have talks geared to everyone from pre-kindergarten students to people 100 or older,” he said. “I can teach anyone.”
The Communities of Color Network, an affiliate of the Louisiana Public Health Institute and the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living, provides support and technical assistance to African-American communities to help ensure that they are well-informed about the dangers of tobacco and understand how to protect themselves from unhealthy exposure.
Its mission is to eliminate health inequalities caused by or related to tobacco use among Louisiana communities of color by building coalitions, increasing awareness of the dangers and reducing tobacco consumption and secondhand smoke exposure.
Kennedy said that is an important message because cigarettes are associated with an increased risk for cancer, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.
“The death rate from these diseases is increasing,” Kennedy said. “Smoking is not a good habit and it is addictive.”
He said the typical cigarette contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including many considered poisonous.
“When I go shopping for food, I always look at the label. If an item has more than six added ingredients I assume it isn’t good for me. When you are taking about 7,000 chemicals, you know it isn’t good,” Kennedy said.
He is also concerned about second-hand smoke. If you are in a smoke-filled nightspot or a home with a smoker, he said, just breathing the air for 30 minutes is the equivalent of smoking a cigarette yourself.
If anyone would like more information or to schedule a free talk for their class, club or group, Kennedy can be reached by calling SCRI at 337-943-2410.
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