By Downieville Jr High and High School Students
Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. The youth from Downieville School who participated in the Minnesota Smoking Prevention Program have learned many statistics about tobacco and how it can threaten your life. They also learned about the different forms of peer and social influence pressures youth encounter to begin using tobacco. The pressures they learned about are indirect, direct, put down and hassle. These pressure traits were closely evaluated and observed through discussion.
The students participated in a project to learn how to deal with those pressures in positive ways. They worked in groups based on the four pressures and created skits to be aware of the situation as it comes up in real life. The four groups incorporated just say “no,” stand tall with friends, suggest something else, give your reason, add some humor, and stand up for yourself as strategies to use nonviolent ways to say no to the four pressures.
Social influence, which is an indirect pressure, is also present in the movies that youth watch on a daily basis. Smoking in movies is estimated to influence 52% of all teens. The students learned about solutions for the social influence of smoking in movies. Downieville High School FNL made a presentation based on the problems related to watching movies with tobacco use in them. The solutions are: rating movies that portray smoking “R,” requiring movies to be certified free of tobacco industry influence, requiring strong anti-tobacco advertisements before movies with smoking, and stopping the identification of tobacco brands. During this presentation Downieville High School FNL also addressed some of the dangers of tobacco use. The harmful effects that smoking has on your lungs was observed through the use of pig lungs. One was a “smoker’s” lung and the other was a healthy lung. There was a very clear, visible difference between the two lungs. The youth also experienced what is was like to breathe as a smoker might while doing light exercise. They did jumping jacks while breathing through a straw to simulate breathing like a smoker. They were surprised to find how difficult it actually was to breathe through the straw.
The students stated: “The things we learned during the Minnesota Smoking Prevention Program we can apply to our daily lives.”
The Sierra County Tobacco Use Reduction Program is a Local Lead Agency for the California Tobacco Control Program. The California Tobacco Control Program has been working to prevent tobacco-related disease and death since its inception in 1989 through the Tobacco Tax and Health Protection Act (Prop. 99). The goal of the California Tobacco Control Program has been to change the beliefs around the use of tobacco. The California Department of Public Health C-STATS survey results indicate that Sierra County’s smoking rates are higher than State wide rates and that smokeless tobacco or chew use rates in the County are significantly higher.
Sierra County’s current three year tobacco plan focuses on reducing tobacco sales to minors; tobacco prevention and education for our youth; and developing collaborative partnerships with healthcare, educational, and social organizations within the County for the purpose of addressing the negative health effects of tobacco use and other health issues. Currently the Tobacco Use Reduction Program works closely with the Sierra County Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program in offering tobacco education and prevention to the County’s youth. The Sierra County Drug & Alcohol Advisory Board/Tobacco Coalition exists to enable community members to express concern or participate in decisions that help shape the programs to better meet the needs of our communities. The Sierra County Drug & Alcohol Advisory Board/Tobacco Coalition will be meeting on May 19, 2011 in Loyalton at the Probation office. Community members are welcome.
There are other councils that welcome community members such as the Rec-Year-Round Committee (youth activities), the Sierra County Health Coalition, the Mental Health Advisory Board, First 5 Sierra, the Child Abuse Council, and the School Board.
If you are interested in becoming involved in the local efforts of the Sierra County Tobacco Use Reduction Program and/or collaborative partners please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
Sierra County Tobacco Use Reduction Program