Vicksburg native Kimberly Stevens was awarded the 2022-2023 Mississippi Tobacco Free Grant which is worth $76,000. The grant was issued through the Mississippi Department of Health through the non-profit, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
Stevens, project director of the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Claiborne and Warren Counties, will use the funds to educate the community, reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, promote tobacco cessation services and eliminate tobacco-related disparities.
“We basically educate the communities we serve pertaining to tobacco use and secondhand smoke. A lot of people do not understand the harm that secondhand smoke causes,” said Stevens.
The coalition partners with schools, faith-based and community service organizations, businesses and a number of health advocacy organizations to provide education and resources to the communities they serve and provide assistance to Mississippi municipalities in working towards comprehensive smoke-free ordinances.
Stevens spoke on the current “Catch my Breath” program which is being utilized by the school system where they come out and speak to the youth about tobacco use.
“We hope to catch them before they even start and that’s the mission of it,” said Stevens.
Stevens is the third-year recipient and is the mother of three children; Kimberlee, Nicholas and Kedarious.
She is excited about working with the stakeholders and enhancing the community’s knowledge pertaining to tobacco use and secondhand smoke.
“It’s exciting for me to make the community aware because I am a mother of that era of children that thought vaping was cool,” said Stevens. She added she also owned a tobacco shop at one point. “I never realized the actual harm and exposure I was giving to my children,” said Stevens. “Now since I’ve gotten into the tobacco-free world, I see how I exposed them to certain things I should not have and I wish I would not have.”
Stevens works closely with city officials within Vicksburg and Port Gibson to make their communities healthier.
“I’m here and I’m accessible,” said Stevens. “It’s never too late to stop smoking. If anyone ever needs me to come out, I am open and available.”See a typo? Report it here.