|March 21, 2013
Mission Valley students engaged in Tobacco Prevention Education
Seventh through tenth graders in the Mission Valley are learning about the reACT program through the teachings of Dennis Johnson with the Lake County Health Department’s Tobacco Prevention Program. reACT stands for “React against Corporate Tobacco. The focus of the program is to educate about the dangers of tobacco use and to expose large tobacco companies’ tactics on how and why they target teens to become regular tobacco users. Because over half of tobacco users end up with chronic illnesses or worse as a result of their use, tobacco companies must find replacement smokers in order to maintain their bottom line. Polson Middle School students are learning how they can take action and promote social change towards a healthier, tobacco-free environment. By exposing the marketing ploys of these large tobacco companies, learning about the negative health consequences of nicotine and about harmful chemicals added to tobacco products, youth can influence their peers into making positive decisions when it comes to their health. Over 90 percent of current tobacco users report that they started smoking before the age of 18 and wished they never had.
The Mission Valley is also fortunate to have a physician dedicated to the Tar Wars Program: Dr. Cara Harrop. The mission of Tar Wars, an education program of the American Academy of Family Physicians, is to educate students about being tobacco-free, provide them with the tools to make positive decisions regarding their health, and to promote personal responsibility for their well-being. Dr. Harrop has gone into each 5th grade classroom in Lake County for the past five years to talk to students about tobacco advertising, how much money a pack a day could cost you over the long term, and also about the short and long term effects of smoking. She engages the children in an interactive lesson, where they come up with the answers, which drives home the important points of this curriculum.
During the month of February, eighth-grade reACT students from Polson Middle School presented tobacco prevention education lessons to third graders at Linderman Elementary School. Some of the topics included the effects of smoking on the circulatory and respiratory systems, the effects of spit tobacco on the mouth, teeth and gums and about some of the effects of secondhand smoke. Not only did the third graders learn something, but the eighth graders gained confidence in speaking in front of others. With older students teaching younger ones, engaging them in fun games and activities while learning about the negative health consequences of tobacco; hopefully the youth here will continue to make wise decisions regarding their own health.
If you would like to learn more about the reACT program through Montana’s Tobacco Use Prevention Program (MTUPP), go to tobaccofree.mt.gov or www.reACTmt.com.