The Wells Bayou Youth Development Inc. is encouraging Jefferson County residents to quit tobacco on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.


According to a news release, the Wells Bayou group partnered with the Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in this effort.


The agencies are raising awareness of the dangerous health effects of tobacco use. By calling the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline (1.800.QUIT.NOW), tobacco users can receive free counseling and medication to help them quit, the release said.


“Secondhand smoke is harmful air pollution. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer,” according to the release. “It’s proven to cause lung cancer and heart disease in non-smoking adults.”


Ermer J. Preston is director of the Wells Bayou Youth group.


“What is disturbing is that some rural counties in Arkansas have a higher mortality rate associated with tobacco use than the state as a whole,” Preston said in the release.”Additionally, WBYD wants to assist residents who want to quit tobacco on Earth Day. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the overall mortality rate among both male and female smokers in the U.S. is about three times higher than that among those who never smoked.”


Details: 1.800.QUIT.NOW or for the Wells Bayou Youth Development, call 870-263-1111, visit www.wbyd.org or see the Facebook page.