“Clearing the Smoke”

DSCN0873“To improve the health of people in its community through health” is an integral part of the mission statement of the Berean Wellness and Community Support Center. 

The program continues to reflect this portion of its mission through a recent community resource person.  It was three years ago that Frankie Poland, regional coordinator for the program “Communities of Color Network”  met in Berean’s community center with a group of youth who had worked with a summer program.  It was there that she addressed them on the dangers of smoking and how the ‘system’ has targeted them at their early age to become smokers.  In the audience and observing it all was Lyn Hakeem, director of Berean’s Wellness Center.  “There was no denying Poland’s passion about the dangers of smoking and the need for policies to reduce the destructive presence of tobacco advertisements in communities of people of color.   It was an opportunity I was not about to let slip away,” stated Hakeem.   Realizing the great potential of joining with Poland and “The Louisiana Healthy Communities Coalition” and how Berean’s Wellness Center could benefit from such a partnership gave her the courage to approach Poland.   Recently it was Poland who initiated things by approaching Hakeem regarding doing a presentation on Berean’s  ‘Wellness Wednesday,’ a weekly community forum held at the center.

The forum began with Poland’s announcing that she is willing to go wherever the need is and will even provide phone counseling if requested.  She continued by enumerating diseases and problems such as osteoporosis, bad breath, amputations, skin wrinkling, diabetes, cancers, pregnancy complications, and heart disease associated with cigarette smoking attributed to the four to six thousand chemicals found in cigarettes.  “If only the smoking public realized how our innocent unsuspecting children and youth are susceptible to the adults’ smoking habits.  Little do those adults know (or even care) about the deadly harm that second-hand smoke is inflicting on their children.   Unlike the smoker, the recipient of second-hand smoke lacks the filters which to some degree lesson the effect,” she said passionately.  We would also learn that blowing cigarette smoke directly into a non-smoker’s face for 30 minutes is equivalent to that person smoking one cigarette.   If that weren’t bad enough, the announcement that third-hand smoke that clings to clothing, household items, etc. is just as deadly.  “Just as there is a ‘Quit Smoking’ campaign, there is also a subtle one targeting our youth to ‘Start Smoking.’   This is found in the candy mints, bubble gum and other enticements to introduce our children to smoking and its deadly consequences.  “   She went on to add her accolades for  the many  municipalities that have in place protective measures  such as “no smoking in vehicles with children,” and  the “No Smoking”  bans in  work places, various forms of amusement and entertainment, and of course, federal and state  modes of transportation.  It was with some reluctance that Poland brought her presentation to an end but not before providing resource information for those struggling with the drive and need to kick the nicotine habit.  We applaud Poland’s “stop smoking” campaign and agree with Hakeem that “Frankie (does) come alive when she shares with her audience the dangers of smoking.”  We continue to be grateful for our community resource persons and our center director.

Evelyn M. Edwards in collaboration with Lyn Hakeem

Berean Baton Rouge


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