This Great American Smokeout is for REAL

LIHU’E — One hundred thirty-nine people whose lives were affected by tobacco silently looked down at the ongoing Great American Smokeout event at Kukui Grove Center yesterday.

These were volunteers who were willing to be part of the REAL poster that was one of several attractions that greeted shoppers who paused to browse through the offerings of representatives of agencies concerned with tobacco-cessation efforts on Kaua’i.

Rhonda Liu of the Tobacco Free Kauai (TFK) coalition made sure the two five-gallon plastic jugs containing cigarette butts collected during a cleanup event at Lydgate Park were on display at the event, but noted that the collection is beginning to smell, so she is considering getting a cap for the jugs, “to keep the smell inside.”

Liu said TFK leaders are currently conducting surveys on people’s reactions to smoking, cigarette butts, and related issues at Lydgate Park, with the final goal being a tobacco-free beach.

The TFK members were joined by officials with other agencies who offered a wide range of services, advice, and literature for people concerned about either helping to spread awareness of the dangers of smoking, or helping smokers who want to quit.

A collection of 60 slippers took up the main aisle, with the message touting that they represent the number of people who die each year on Kaua’i from tobacco-related illnesses.

Mary Williamson of the American Cancer Society explained that a lot of the slippers were donated by leaders of businesses, so shoppers could get a better idea of how many people die on Kaua’i from tobacco-related illnesses.

Shoppers could also stop and exchange their worn out slippers for one of the new pairs that dotted the aisle, many taking the time to do just that.

Valerie Saiki, an anti-smoking advocate and head of the Kaua’i REAL project, and Kapa’a High School student Jazzlyn Pasion were on duty as part of the REAL team, taking the time to explain to shoppers about their “Connect the Dots” program, as well as the REAL poster that saw a picture of an individual inside of each of the dots that together made up the word “REAL” (it doesn’t stand for anything, but is a reference to the anti-tobacco, REAL campaign).

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