Gov. Schweiker Joins 300 PA Teens To Launch Youth Anti-Tobacco Movement, `BUSTED!'
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Surrounded by 300 Pennsylvania teens on the front steps of the state Capitol, Gov. Mark Schweiker today launched a statewide youth anti-tobacco movement, ``BUSTED!'' -- a grassroots advocacy campaign encouraging P
``BUSTED! provides the resources and network support; our young people provide the spirit and commitment to help their peers make the right decision when it comes to tobacco use,'' Gov. Schweiker said. ``I commend the teens here today. They are energized, eager and committed to this movement today so that Pennsylvania will be healthier tomorrow.
``Every year, 63,000 Pennsylvania children and teens become daily smokers. These kids become `replacement smokers' because they replace the 1,200 smokers who die every day nationwide.
Youth involvement will make a difference and save lives in Pennsylvania through aggressive, grassroots peer leadership and advocacy initiatives.`` The objectives of BUSTED! include: educating and training Pennsylvania youth about advocacy and the tobacco industry, particularly how the industry attempts to lure teen smokers through deceptive marketing practices; empowering them to use the movement as their vehicle for spreading anti- tobacco messages; and preparing them to return to their communities and organize themselves to create a cultural change.
BUSTED! is a result of the Health Department's fourth annual Youth Summit which was held in Harrisburg last year. The conference was based on the youth empowerment model that was used in Florida's ``truth'' campaign. Teen activists gathered together, named the movement and now have branded themselves with a logo.
Joining Gov. Schweiker for the announcement were First Lady Kathy Schweiker; Health Secretary Robert Zimmerman Jr.; Physician General Dr. Robert Muscalus; MTV Celebrity Yes Duffy; and teen advocates.
``Tobacco is an issue we struggle with every day in our society,'' Secretary Zimmerman said. ``We are very proud of the Pennsylvania teens we have here today. These youth have shown they are dedicated to the anti-tobacco movement. They are our future, and by looking out at this crowd, I can see our future is very promising.''
Rally emcee Shea-Lin Williams, a 17-year-old senior at Sharon High School, Sharon, Mercer County, said, ``We, the youth of Pennsylvania, have the power and the knowledge to stop Big Tobacco. Since our summit, we've spread the word to our friends, brothers and sisters about how Big Tobacco is targeting us and about how we can tell them they're BUSTED! We've held events at our schools, and we've spoken out in our communities, but we need to continue to ask all Pennsylvania youth to get involved and join our fight.''
Regional meetings to educate and train youth will be held statewide beginning in May. The trainings, under the direction of the Health Department, will provide BUSTED! youth with additional advocacy skills, media training and resource development. A number of the BUSTED! youth also will be involved in compliance checks of tobacco retailers.
Last week, Gov. Schweiker devoted his April radio address to outlining an aggressive statewide campaign aimed at curbing tobacco sales to minors and reducing overall tobacco use in Pennsylvania. Two 30-second television commercials, produced by the state Department of Health, are the centerpiece of the new campaign, and dramatically illustrate the consequences of selling tobacco to kids. The ads began airing statewide on April 1.
``Nearly four out of 10 high school seniors in Pennsylvania currently smoke, and more than 220,000 Pennsylvania kids under the age of 18 will eventually suffer death by tobacco,'' Gov. Schweiker said. ``Besides the cost to human life, the illegal sale and use of tobacco carries huge financial costs for all of us. The annual bill for tobacco-related health care in Pennsylvania is $4 billion. And it's not getting any cheaper.''
The National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids report that 12.8 million packs of cigarettes are sold illegally to Pennsylvania kids each year.
The Department of Health's Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control manages a comprehensive tobacco-prevention program with a mission to reduce the use of tobacco products by Pennsylvania residents and control the epidemic of tobacco-related disease, disability and death. The Health Department works with state, local and regional partners in compliance and enforcement programs and supports outreach efforts to discourage tobacco use. This initiative also includes a toll-free ``hotline'' to report unlawful tobacco sales and to respond to requests for information. The hotline number is 1-877-PA-HEALTH.