NOT Club


By McKinnley Bartels

Although statistics show that from 2011 to 2015 the number of high school students who smoke cigarettes has decreased, but in our community that may not be entirely true.

The nicotine in cigarettes, especially for youth, becomes very addicting, even after smoking only a few times.

Cigarette and marijuana addiction is very prevalent in our high school these days and people have taken notice. Some have paid such close attention that they’ve decided to start groups to try and help those struggling with addiction to both of these substances.

Erin Hospodar, Jeffco School Prevention Counselor, and Zach Dunlop, Youth Engagement Specialist with Jefferson Public Health, are trying to implement a new group, the No On Tobacco  (NOT) group, at Wheat Ridge High School. The NOT group is the American Lung Association’s voluntary 10-week smoking cessation program for teenagers 14 to 19 years of age.

The NOT group consists of students who are interested in quitting cigarettes and/or marijuana use and also people who are trying to support a friend or family memeber who need help during the process. The goal for this group is for students to understand why they smoke and why they want to quit along with the benefits of quitting. The 10 weeks will be packed with different ways the cessation process works and includes engaging activities in a way that will support the student and their goals.

Hospodar and Dunlop have reached out to students at “the pit,” posted fliers around the school, and have had information tables with the Breath Easy (BE) team during lunch to try and spread the word about this new group. Sadly there have been very few participants in the program this semester, but Hospodar and Dunlop are hoping for a better turnout next year. Both Hospodar and Dunlop are eager to try and team up with student leaders around the school to get the information out to students interested in quitting or cutting back on their useage.

On top of the NOT group, the BE team from both Wheat Ridge and Lakewood High Schools put on a cigarette butt pick-up on April 21. It was a huge success! The group picked up cigarette butts and trash at Crown Hill Park near the bus stop, picnic tables, and up to the gazebo, and then went to Discovery Park and picked up cigarette butts and trash near the skate park and surrounding picnic and playground areas.

Hospodar explained that during the pick up, “Jefferson County Open Space members spoke to the students to explain the detrimental effects cigarette butts and trash have on the environment and provided students with cool swag as a way to thank them for their participation.”

By the end, the group collected a whopping ten bags of cigarette butts! In addition, community members expressed their thanks to the students for cleaning up the space and on top of that, many adults and students didn’t realize that Discovery Park was actually a smoke-free space.

Anyone interested in the NOT group or any other upcoming events related to cessation of substances you can contact Hospodar or Dunlop.