SOURCE: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Tobacco Control and Prevention Program

May 23, 2011 18:31 ET

Los Angeles Sparks Team Up With Crenshaw High to Keep Teens off Tobacco

Los Angeles Sparks and Los Angeles City Attorney's T.A.R.G.E.T. Project Help Youth Make a Slam Dunk on a Healthy Future

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - May 23, 2011) - Today the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health joined Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and the WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks at Crenshaw High School to promote a tobacco-free community with a basketball scrimmage and special recognition of students who participated in the City Attorney's T.A.R.G.E.T. (Teens and Retailers Getting Educated on Tobacco) Project, a school-based initiative focused on tobacco prevention. Research has shown that retail stores in close proximity to schools sell cigarettes to minors at much higher rates than other retailers and sell nearly 50 percent more tobacco products overall. The Los Angeles Sparks event at Crenshaw High represents the Department of Public Health's ongoing efforts to empower teens to live tobacco-free.

"This is a very special day for Crenshaw High. Our students are exposed to tobacco marketing and pressure much too often," said school principal Carrie Allen. "Role models such as the Sparks players encourage them to stay away from tobacco, make healthy choices and work hard to accomplish their goals."

Students who participated in the T.A.R.G.E.T. Project took pictures of tobacco advertisements on retailer store fronts near the high school and in the neighborhood. The project helped to raise awareness of tobacco's presence and influence in the local community. Students had the unique opportunity to present their T.A.R.G.E.T. projects to City Attorney Trutanich, the Sparks team and their Crenshaw High peers. The T.A.R.G.E.T. Project is made possible by funding from the Department of Public Health's Tobacco Control and Prevention Program - Project TRUST (Tobacco Reduction Using Effective Strategies & Teamwork).

The Department of Public Health has been in partnership with the Los Angeles Sparks since 2010 for its No Excuses - Live Tobacco Free campaign, empowering Los Angeles County residents to quit smoking with free cessation assistance from the California Smokers' Helpline.

To help people who currently smoke, have already quit or want to help a friend or relative kick this deadly addiction, Angelenos can visit LAQuits.com for information and resources about quitting smoking, or call 1-800-NO-BUTTS for free and confidential telephone counseling that has proven to double a smoker's chances of successfully quitting than if the smoker tried to do it alone. The service, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and TDD/TYY, also assists those trying to quit chewing tobacco and has experts to help teens and pregnant women quit. Additional information and smoking cessation tips can be found on the LA Quits Facebook page and Twitter @LAQuits.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit publichealth.lacounty.gov or visit our YouTube channel at youtube.com/lapublichealth or follow us on Twitter: @LAPublicHealth.