Stopping Tobacco Use Before It Starts
An innovative program in New Hampshire that teaches students teaches about the dangers of tobacco is receiving national recognition. What makes it unique is that the program involves kids teaching other kids.
As NewsCenter 5's Rhonda Mann reports, the teachers in a Dover, N.H., fourth grade class are students themselves, and the topic is a deadly one.
Dover's Youth to Youth program uses reverse peer pressure to attack a prevalent health problem among young people -- tobacco use.
"A lot of people look at youth as part of the problem. What we've done here in Dover is given youth a chance to be part of the solution," Dover Police officer Dana Mitchell said.
The program encourages young people to urge their peers to trade in tobacco related products, for those with a more positive message.
The teens also drafted a city ordinance, which passed, banning local stores from selling tobacco rolling papers to minors. Students have alos written ant! i-tobacco public service announcements, which have run on the local radio station.
"I have friends who smoke and they're so addicted that they can't stop ... I saw kids smoking in the bathrooms or behind the school and that really bothered me," high school student Chaney Davis said.
In May, Davis jreceived a national award in Washington, D.C. for her efforts to keep peers from lighting up.
Police say because of the program, Dover now ranks 15 percent below the state average when it comes to teens who smoke. Students agree the message is a breath of fresh air, coming from kids.
"They can be like role models to us," fourth grader Maureen Walcek said.
"I think I'd probably listen to them more than an adult because they're kids and I'm one too," fourth grader Robert Oberlander said.
Still Davis, who dreams of going into law enforcement herself someday, says there's more work to be done.
"I don't think we can stop this until we s! top kids from smoking," she said.