VOICE sponsors anti-tobacco campaign among county youth

Authored by Jim Langham on Mar 26, 2012

VOICE, Indiana's youth movement dedicated to exposing the tobacco industry while empowering teens to fight back against deceptive marketing practices, recently sponsored a "Kick Butts Day" event at Bellmont, Adams Central and the Boys and Girls Club. On March 21, Tobacco Free Kids invited youth across the nation to stand up and speak out against the way tobacco companies target them.
Sandi Pontius, VOICE Hub Coordinator North, noted that tobacco companies spend almost $1 million daily in Indiana to make smoking look, "cool," "relaxing," "mature," "sporty" and acceptable to youth. The recent Kick Butts Day was designed to counter the lies from tobacco industry messaging.
Megan Colchin, an assistant heading up the anti-tobacco movement among county youth, noted that county schools had such events as, "The Grim Reaper," at Bellmont, a play in which three grim reapers kill off 27 students to represent the number of Hoosiers that die every day from tobacco related illness.
Colchin noted that Adams Central did a visual display depicting the chemicals in cigarettes. At AC, there were also tobacco facts playing all day on the televisions in the school hallways. In addition, Boys and Girls Club youth had 27 chalk outlines on the sidewalk depicting those that pass in a day's time in Indiana.
"Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak up and take action against the tobacco industry," said Colchin. "The youth I work with know that tobacco companies are targeting them. The tobacco industry addicts more than 1,000 youth every day; my kids do not want to be a part of that statistic. They understand that the Center for Disease Control says that tobacco kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.
"Area students are taking a stand and will not be tricked by tobacco companies," continued Colchin. "They have lives to live, accomplishments, and dreams; they want to be able to live their lives to the fullest and not be cut short by a death that can be prevented."
Allison Perez, who is involved in the VOICE program through Boys and Girls Club, said that she was attracted to the movement because she wanted to reach out and help people who are smoking.
"It sounded like a fun program, stopping people from smoking," said Perez.
"Smoking can kill a lot of people and it is bad for people's health. People that smoke can get cancer."
"I wanted to know more about cigarettes, I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't smoke," said Jaden Mankey, who is also involved with VOICE. "I think it's kind of weird that they have the same chemical in cigarettes that is in spray paint."
Mankey was referring to a display set up by Colchin of various commercial products that have ingredients that can be found in cigarettes. Colchin had set up the display at the Decatur Boys and Girls Club in order to illustrate the dangerous chemicals smokers are exposed to in using cigarettes.
"My biggest concern is what tobacco companies are trying to do," added Mankey. "I have a lot of friends that smoke; I am not against them but I am against the way cigarette companies try to market cigarettes and the things that cigarettes can do to people."
"I don't really like smoking; I don't think that smoking smells good," commented VOICE teen, Olivia Fennig. "I don't like the smell of smoking and I don't like to go to places where there is smoke."
Zach Fuelling said that he was neutral on smoking until an officer demonstrated the ill health effects caused by smoking.
"That really affected my perspective," said Fuelling. "Up until then I was neutral on it, although I didn't want to do it."
For more information, contact Megan Colchin – Adams County adult ally 260-724-9128 ext. 105 or Sandi Pontius – VOICE Hub Coordinator North 574-612-0084.

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