Teens work to prevent peers from smoking
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) -- Sixteen-year-old Ashley Stocks doesn' t smoke, but her parents and many of her friends do.
" I' m really not happy about it, " Stocks, a junior at New Berlin Eisenhower High School, said. " People just don' t realize what they' re getting into when they start."
But starting this month, Stocks and a group of teens will take a pro-active approach to prevent their peers from lighting up.
As part of the Waukesha County Tobacco-Free Coalition, the teens will visit businesses close to area schools that make it easy for minors to buy or steal cigarettes.
" Kids know where to go where it' s easy to steal cigarettes. They know where they can get people to sell them, " Eisenhower junior Greg Bybee, 17, said.
The campaign seeks to ensure businesses comply with the law and avoid excessive advertising, not hurt their profits, Stocks said.
Businesses will be notified by mail asking for their compliance.
" We completely understand that tobacco products are a large part of their income, but having it right next to the candy or having flashing lights around the prices, it almost attracts kids to it, " Stocks said.
Local bowling alleys will be asked to start smoke-free hours and businesses will be asked to put cigarettes behind sales counters.
" Just by taking away some of those opportunities to get the stuff, we might be able to prevent a lot of teen smoking, " Bybee said, adding that his father smokes and many of his friends have recently taken it up.
" It' s almost like they' re proud of it, and that' s sad. Hurting themselves is bad enough, but they' re also hurting other people with secondhand smoke, " Bybee said. " Some bathrooms at school, you come out, and you' re just permeated with smoke."
Waukesha County Tobacco-Free Coalition Co-chairman Jenifer Finley said she is encouraged by the campaign, which is being aided by the YWCA of Waukesha and the American Cancer Society.
" I think the message that we' re trying to send out is that the youth of the community do care, " Stocks said. " It' s not coming from the adults. It' s kids helping each other."