BLACKFOOT — A small group of students from Blackfoot High School have banded together and are taking a stand against tobacco use.
The Blackfoot High School Drama Club is a recipient of one of 10 Support Teens Against Nicotine Dependency (STAND) grants from the American Lung Association. All students at the high school are welcome to join the effort of educating their peers and younger generations about tobacco prevention and providing information about tobacco cessation.
According to the 2008 Idaho Substance Use and School Climate Survey, conducted by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory for the Idaho Department of Education, 36 percent of 12th graders in 2008 reported having smoked, with 9.5 percent smoking daily. The report indicates that 19.2 percent of seniors in 2008 have ever used smokeless tobacco.
In addition to education efforts, the students are also advocating to make parks and areas where children play smoke-free, and would like to see at least one day completely smoke-free at the Eastern Idaho State Fair, student Mark Breshears said.
"We're trying to get Blackfoot High School doing this as a whole," teacher Michael Moll said.
Some of the students involved are smokers and are wanting to quit. Others have family members who smoke.
"I am personally a smoker and I've been trying to quit," student Caity Owens said. "It's really disgusting."
"I am involved because I grew up around people who smoke," student Samantha Bates said.
Owens and Bates were two of 11 students who volunteered their time after school Wednesday to pick up cigarette butts from two Blackfoot parks.
Next week, the students will receive training to enable them to visit elementary schools to teach young students about the health hazards of tobacco use.
In March, they will participate in Kick Butts Day, a national day of activism March 23 that empowers youth to fight back against the tobacco industry.
They are also creating a skit including testimonials of smokers. They will then perform the skit various times throughout the next year, and hopes to perform at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.
"It's a serious problem and we're trying to do something about it," Moll said.
STAND is funded through a grant from the Idaho State Millennium Fund.