Students - Smoking isn't 'cool'

Friday, November 16, 2001

Central Junior High students think smoking is a drag.

Yet an average of 3,000 young people start smoking every day in America.

To mark the national Great American Smokeout day on Thursday, students at Central Junior High School tied orange ribbons to their name badges and voiced their opinions to show they aren't a part of that group.

"I don't know why people even start smoking," eighth-grader Lorrin Lynn said. "It's just going to ruin their lives. There's so much bad publicity about it, I just don't know why they do it. "

Lynn is like a lot of students at the junior high school who say they kno people the same age who use tobacco, but choose not to hang around smokers.

"I guess they just think it's cool," Lynn said.

The orange ribbons distinguished the students wearing them as either non-smokers or smokers who had quit, at least for the day.

"Smoking really grosses me out," eighth-grader Sarah Goeke said. "It just smells bad. I don't see how they can do it. It doesn't appeal to me at all."

Ribbon campaign

Students wore different colored ribbons for two days leading up to the Great American Smokeout. Those who knew of someone who died of cancer wore black ribbons on their name badges on Black Tuesday, and on White Wednesday those who knew someone who is a smoker wore white ribbons.

Eighth-grader Sarah Kinnison said she is glad none of her friends smoke.

"I know there are people who do, but I think it's pretty much just disgusting," she said. "It practically ruins your body and your life and you lose so much money."

The idea for the ribbon campaign came from school nurse Sue Marchbanks. She said she got the idea from a magazine article on another school that had a similar campaign.

She started the program at Central Junior High School in 1999 with the intentions of doing it every other year.

"At this age they're so vulnerable," Marchbanks said. "They see their peers doing it and want to try it. They're prone to try almost anything, so we're trying to stop it before it starts."

Marchbanks said she has noticed fewer students getting caught smoking at school this year than in the past, but she doesn't know exactly what has made the difference.

Perhaps, she said, it's because they know they will be disciplined.

"If they get caught they come to me," she said. "And I kind of put the fear in them."

Smokeout history

The idea for the Great American Smokeout started in 1971 when a Massachusetts man asked people to give up smoking for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a local high school.

The first national Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, was in 1976. It was a day to raise awareness about the dangers with smoking and challenge people to stop using tobacco.

hkronmueller@semissourian.com

335-6611 ext. 128

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