Vincent hosts anti-smoking events

Shoppers visiting the stores of Vincent this week might catch a glimpse of an enigmatic number posted in the storefront windows: 174,000.

Next week, new posters will go up explaining the number: 174,000 youths in Alabama are expected to die a smoking-related death.

The posters are part of Family Connection’s anti-smoking campaign in Vincent, said coordinator Jessie Garnett.

“Basically, Vincent and Columbiana have the highest youth smoking rates in Shelby County, according to data we collected last year,” Garnett said.

Family Connection’s also taking the fight to Vincent Middle/High School, with a Kick Butts Day planned for March 26. On that day, the school will host four anti-smoking assemblies for all the middle- and high-school students. Steve Lee, an anti-smoking expert, will speak on the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

“The main subject of the assembly is trying to get students to realize how dangerous smoking really is,” Garnett said. “We’re trying to get those who are already smoking a wake-up call.”

Garnett said the goal of the anti-smoking campaign is to bring awareness to the community.

“When smoking might be the norm of your everyday life, then yes, it might be normal, but it’s not good for you,” she said. “It’s not just something that affects me, but it could affect my entire community.”

She said the Vincent storeowners have been very supportive of Family Connection’s efforts.

“They have all been really receptive, saying, ‘That’s definitely something we need to work on. We really support you,’ so that’s been really encouraging,” she said.

After Vincent’s Kick Butts Day, Family Connection’s next project will be a public service announcement contest for Columbiana Middle School, where students will write their own PSAs and the winning one will be broadcast over local radio.