Teens teach dangers of tobacco

The Carson Valley and Pau Wa Lu middle school Teens Against Tobacco Use clubs were invited to present the facts about tobacco to the sixth-grade students of Jacks Valley, Piñon Hills and Gardnerville elementary schools in February. The presentations were centered around an opening skit giving the sixth graders the opportunity to understand why they should say no to tobacco.

Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States; the Douglas County Teens Against Tobacco want to help this generation slash the number and age of initiation of this devastating product.

The teen teachers displayed typical cigarette advertisements designed to entice young people into thinking that smoking is cool and that everybody does it. From the pretest figures, the audience had the false impression that most teens smoke when, in fact, only 19.6 percent of Nevada's teens actually do smoke.

It is a fact that young adults who start smoking are more likely to get lower grades in school. They may have a low self-image and may not know how to say no to tobacco. Another fact they share is that most smokers start using tobacco before their 18th birthday; before they are even of age to purchase the product. This means that if they stay smoke-free in school, they will probably never smoke.

The peer teachers shared the real truth about the devastating and deadly cost that tobacco plays in our world. They share the fact that tobacco costs the United States billions of dollars every year in medical bills. In the United States, alone, tobacco use costs $89 billion in health care every year. They share the fact that 440,000 Americans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses - which amounts to 1,200 Americans.

They use math skills to demonstrate that a typical smoker spends $1,500 a year purchasing tobacco products that could be used to pay for their college education, a car, or a trip to Disneyland.

The conclusion of their presentation is centered on answering the audience's questions. The young people are very perceptive and interested in how second-hand smoke may affect their health. The peer teachers suggest that all young people make a concentrated effort to keep the air around them safe for them to breathe as 53,000 Americans die from second-hand smoke-related illnesses every year and, as their lungs are still growing and maturing, they are at greater risk.

The Douglas County Teens Against Tobacco is sponsored by the Partnership of Community Resources through the fund for a Healthy Nevada Grant. For more information or to schedule a presentation, contact the partnership at 782-8611.


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