The Orcas Island High School club NextGeneration will once again organize and host “Kick Butts Day,” joining thousands of students nationwide to encourage and empower youth to stand up against and seize control against “Big Tobacco.” On March 20, the high school club members will present information about the harmful effects of smoking to younger students. NextGeneration hopes to positively influence their choices as they grow up.
NextGeneration’s goal is to inform, support and empower students to make positive decisions in their future. The group has found that the strategy of peers educating peers to advocate positive change on issues of concern in the school and island community is effective. NextGeneration members will continue to take on projects that prepare others to tackle future decisions that impact one’s life forever, like the Kick Butts Day project.
According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, almost 90 percent of smokers start using tobacco regularly by the time they are 18, and almost all started by 26 years old. The 2016 SGR states that 3 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2015. These statistics are huge concerns to the club’s members, and they plan to take on big tobacco’s attempt to market to youth.
During Kick Butts Day, NextGen will show a variety of exhibits. Informational posters will be set up to guide the younger students through what kind of chemicals are in a cigarette, and how it negatively affects one’s body. A jar of phlegm and full jug of tar are wielded in front of the students, and the table named “They Put What in a Cigarette?” includes various household items like batteries and nail-polish remover. These objects are displayed to show the young people common chemicals that reside in everyday things that also end up in a person’s lungs if they smoke cigarettes.
The “Tobacco Question and Answer” ball helps answer specific questions with facts in a fun and interactive way, and the multitude of colorful stickers will remind the kids of what they’ve learned. The tobacco awareness presentation comes to a close with the pinky-promise swear to never ever, ever smoke.
There are many effective ways state and local officials can protect young people from tobacco. They can fund tobacco prevention programs, increase tobacco taxes, and pass smoke-free laws to protect people from secondhand smoke.
Each day in the U.S. about 2,000 youth under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and more than 300 youth under 18 years of age become daily cigarette smokers. Raising awareness and helping youth stay tobacco-free is the club’s goal. NextGeneration members take their fight against tobacco seriously, and hope to encourage peers to make smart decisions that could change their lives forever.
NextGeneration Public Relations
Orcas Island High School