Teens Blitz Lawmakers with Tobacco Prevention Valentines, Reports American Lung Association
LANSING, Mich., Feb. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of an American Lung Association nationwide campaign to fund tobacco prevention programs, the Smoke-Free Class of 2000 is sending Valentines to their legislators. Thousands of Michigan kids are sending tobacc
``Michigan filed a lawsuit against the tobacco companies to recover damages related to smoking. None of the tobacco settlement dollars have been used to keep kids from smoking or help smokers quit. If Michigan continues to do nothing, and current trends remain consistent, 230,000 of Michigan's children alive today will die from smoking. We cannot afford to allow this trend to continue,'' said Audrie Chernauckas, Miss Michigan, and American Lung Association of Michigan spokesperson.
``I have been a part of the Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) peer education program at Lansing's Eastern High School for the past three years. It hurts me very much when I walk into a classroom of third- and fourth-graders and I'm told that many of the students already smoke,'' said Senior Roseta Martinez. ``By helping provide prevention programs, you are saving many kids from even thinking about lighting up.''
Michigan will receive an estimated $8.2 billion over 25 years from the tobacco settlement. The American Lung Association of Michigan, and other health groups, estimate that $75 million would fund a comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation program in Michigan. Well-funded tobacco prevention programs have been proven to work. Massachusetts and California both saw cigarette consumption decline after funding comprehensive programs. ``As states contemplate increasing their tobacco control efforts, many have asked if such programs can make a difference. The evidence is clear: They can,'' according to the February 2000 report by the Institute of Medicine.
``It is a known and proven fact that smoking kills. In my opinion, smoking has no benefit. It is a waste of time and money,'' said Lansing Everett High School Student, Brittany Winston. Every day 5,500 youngsters begin smoking. Close to 3,000 of them become established daily smokers.
``It's not too late for Michigan legislators to save lives. There are still unallocated dollars from the tobacco settlement and the state is facing a budget surplus. The kids sending Valentines realize how important it is to fund comprehensive and effective tobacco prevention programs; their message needs to be heard at the Capitol,'' said Doug Klegon, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Lung Association of Michigan.
``The Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) sees great value in educating our youth on the risks associated with smoking. Teaching children at an early age about the consequences of smoking can result in a lifetime of health benefits,'' said MESSA Executive Director, Cynthia Irwin.
The Valentines will be on display at the Capitol from Feb 14 - Feb 19th and then at the State Library from Feb 19 - Feb 25. They will then be sent to the appropriate legislators.