It’s 8:40 a.m. and students in Miss McLaughlin’s eighth-grade class at Chase Middle School stumble to their desks.
This morning, five members of Spokane Teens Against Tobacco (STAT) talk to the students about the ills of cigarette smoking.
“Smoking kills people. It gives them bad breath and yellow teeth,” Rogers High School junior Dennis Campbell says in a STAT skit about peer pressure. “You should really think about quitting,” he tells a friend who smokes in the skit.
Campbell and his STAT companions have already had a long morning. Before visiting with the eighth-graders, the teens held their second annual Policy Makers Breakfast in the Chase library. During the breakfast the teens chatted with community leaders about tobacco-related issues.
“Tobacco has affected many people I care about. I’ve lost three relatives to premature deaths due to tobacco use,” University High senior Marie Fleming said to the group gathered for the breakfast. “And I have a growing concern about the number of kids smoking at my school.”
Fleming later talked one-on-one with Mike Gruber, a legislative assistant for Congressman George Nethercutt, about restricting cigarette advertising. “I think we’re going to see that same issue come before Congress this year,” Gruber said.
One table over, Spokane School Board member Christie Querna asked University High senior Darcie Jones if high-school athletes should have to sign an anti-smoking contract the way they do with drugs and alcohol. “Well, a lot of times the kids who are in sports are not big smokers,” Jones said.
In addition to following tobacco legislation and educating peers on the issue, STAT members also attend national youth anti-smoking conferences and help monitor Spokane convenience stories that might sell cigarettes to underage smokers.
An eight-year grant from the National Cancer Institute funds STAT. The teens also work with the Spokane chapters of Tobacco Free Washington and the American Cancer Society.
If you know a young person who can help educate children and peers about the detriments of tobacco use, or if you would like to bring a STAT presentation to your school, call 324-1452 or 324-1466.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: Created in support of the Spokane County Health Improvement Partnership (HIP), Discoveries highlights people working to improve community health and well-being. If you have a discovery that deserves recognition, call Elana Ashanti Jefferson at 459-5419. To get involved with HIP, call 482-2557.
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