Local students take a stand against tobacco

Students from the Chittenden South Supervisory Union District took a stand against tobacco products and advertising at a rally conducted on Tuesday, Oct 28. At the rally students urged motorist to support a smoke free world and thanked CVS Pharmacy for going tobacco free.
Students from the Chittenden South Supervisory Union District took a stand against tobacco products and advertising at a rally conducted on Tuesday, Oct 28. At the rally students urged motorist to support a smoke free world and thanked CVS Pharmacy for going tobacco free.

Tobacco usage is the most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.  Each year approximately 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Another 8.6 million live with a genuine illness caused by smoking. Retail stores are the primary place where tobacco companies recruit new tobacco users, and nearly 90 percent of those new users are underage youth. In fact, according to their own internal documents, tobacco companies try to attract new young smokers by targeting retail stores near schools and playgrounds.
On Oct. 28, students from Champlain Valley Union, Charlotte Central, Hinesburg Community, Shelburne Community, and Williston Central schools took a stand against tobacco products and advertising.  They participated in the day’s activities as representatives of Connecting Youth (CY) Leadership Education the Anti-Drug (LEAD), Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT), and Our Voices Exposed (OVX). Students held signs urging passing motorists to keep smoke out of their cars, to support a smoke free world and thanking CVS for going tobacco free. Champ and staff of the American Lung Association even stopped by to show their support.
“The students here today are passionate about the impact of tobacco use and advertising on their lives and communities and they should be because they could very well be the first smoke free generation” shared CY Director Christine Lloyd-Newberry. “While we know that every day in the United States, more than 3,000 youth under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette, we also know that the overall rate of youth smoking is the lowest it’s ever been. These students are right; it’s time to end tobacco’s influence on our kids!”
CVS’s recent decision to go tobacco free is one more step toward a tobacco free world. As of Oct. 1, all CVS stores nationwide stopped selling tobacco products. They are the first chain pharmacy to take this stand and students wanted to thank them for leading by example. In addition, earlier this year, Act 135 was signed into law, extending secondhand smoke protections in workplaces, motor vehicles, public places, school grounds, and childcare settings. Included was the prohibition on smoking in a vehicle in the presence of a child 7 years old or younger. On Jan. 1, 2015, the law also takes a first step in protecting children from e-cigarette liquids poisonings. While at the rally, students helped passersby write postcards to Vermont legislators thanking them for their impact on this important issue. The timing of the rally was also in line with the recent kickoff of Counter Balance, a campaign of the Vermont Department of Health. Counter Balance’s primary focus is to counter the tobacco industry’s influence on Vermont’s youth.
Looking for a way to get involved?  It’s as simple as being a positive role model, helping create a community that supports youth in making healthy choices. In addition, we urge parents to talk to their children about the risks of tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use. Set clear rules about your expectations and enforce appropriate consequences so that your rules are respected. Want to know more? Reach out to your local community coalition for a variety of ways to get involved in your community (http://www.preventionworksvt.org/events-and-resources/).
CY serves the communities of Charlotte, Hinesburg, St. George, Shelburne, and Williston and is located online at www.seewhy.info.