Campaign recruits teens to battle youth tobacco use | News
BILOXI, MS (WLOX)- A statewide no-smoking movement is gaining support from some South Mississippi teenagers. This week, the state Health Department came to Biloxi to recruit young people to join the battle against tobacco.
The agency said the tobacco industry is finding new ways to entice new smokers, so it's fighting back with its own creative campaign.
"Get the creative juices flowing. You have 20 minutes starting now!" the announcer shouted to a group of excited teens.
More than 200 seventh and eighth graders had a fun assignment with a serious lesson: design their own line of clothing that explains the dangers of tobacco. The fashion challenge showed them how ordinary materials can be used to create an anti-tobacco campaign.
"About 1,200 people die every day from tobacco-related illnesses. We know the tobacco industry targets the young adults as replacement smokers. We're trying to give these middle schoolers tools that they need to go back to reduce youth tobacco and to make changes to their communities," said Carley Pepper, Mississippi Department of Health Office of Tobacco Control.
The state Health Department brought its Inspiring Future Leaders Youth Conference to the Coast Convention Center Tuesday.
"I dare you to blaze your own trail in to your future instead of blindly walking down a path of self destruction," Javier Sanchez told the crowd.
The motivational speaker urged the students to become activists against smoking.
"They've been tricked into believing that they're going to be cool. They're going to have fun. They're going to experience life to the fullest if they got the cigarette in their mouth, or they're dipping or doing whatever the tobacco industry promotes. So we're working hard to counter that," said Sanchez.
Through creative techniques, the teens learned that they do have a voice when it comes to designing a healthier future.
"Drugs are very bad, and I think we should spread that more," said Jaylen Peters, an eighth grader at Pass Middle School.
"I know tobacco use and stuff like that can harm your body. So it's inspired me even more to go out and take a stand against it," said Brandon Coleman, a eighth grader at Leakesville Jr. High.
The conference came on the eve of the 17th Annual Kick Butts Day. Many teens plan to participate by supporting smoke-free ordinances and spreading the message about tobacco.
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