Kids learn about dangers of tobacco products
“We’re having this event to make sure young people are getting this kind of information.” — Reality Check’s Cara Zampi
TROY, N.Y. >> A statewide youth advocacy program Saturday partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Capital Area to provide information to young people to help them see and understand the dangers of using tobacco products.
Reality Check of NY held their “Seen Enough Tobacco Day” program across the state Oct. 13. The program for the Capital Region was held at the Troy Boys & Girls Club, located at 10, 7th Ave.
The Oct. 13 date was specifically selected by Reality Check NY because, according to their figures, data proves the average age of the new daily smoker is 13.
Joining Reality Check of NY and the Boys and Girls Club were several other groups that used demonstrations, games, and display boards to provide vivid information on the tobacco industry’s large cigarette marketing campaign, its inhaling devices, and their new flavors.
Through games, raffles, comic presentations, experiments and live musical performances about 50 young people received a primer on how and why the tobacco industry sees them as potential customers.
“We’re having this event to make sure young people are getting this kind of in-
formation,” said Reality Check’s Cara Zampi. “And, we want to stop high school kids from having access to tobacco products.”
“There is a difference in the age at which kids can buy tobacco products in Albany County and Rensselaer County,” said Troy Boys and Girls Club Teen Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator Tafari Harper.
In Albany County and Schenectady County the age is 21. In Rensselaer County it is still 18.
“We don’t allow smoking in the club or on the
grounds,” he said. “Over the summer I saw three teens between the ages of 14 and 16 with Jools. I didn’t confiscate them. I got all the kids in the program together, about 25 kids, and spoke to them about the dangers of using tobacco products. I’m a former smoker. I know how hard it is to quit.”
The goals of Reality Check of NY are to expose the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry, produce change in local communities through grassroots mobilization and education and empower youth to see they are more than just replacement smokers for the tobacco industry.
“The goal of today, and it’s going on statewide with other partners, is to protect the youth from starting to smoke when they’re young and to give them the information part,” Zampi said. “The tobacco industry is targeting young people to replace the older smokers.”
One group represented in the Boys and Girls Club gym Saturday was Girls Inc. At the organization’s demonstration table Molly Bisceglia, a high school sophomore, provided anyone who walked up with two vivid examples of what smoking does to the body.
One demonstration showed how smoking affects a person’s lungs. The materials used were a paper coffee filter, a cup of clean water and a tablespoon of molasses.
“See how long it takes for the water to clear the filter once the molasses is spread on it,” Bisceglia said. “The molasses represents the tar from tobacco and the filter is your lungs.”
The event drew the interest of Rensselaer County Legislator Kim Ashe McPherson. An ex-smoker herself and one who lost her husband to lung cancer, Ashe McPherson saw the “Seen Enough Tobacco” event as something in line with her own thinking.
“The best thing you can do is educate them,” she said. “If you raise the age to buy them, they’ll get it somewhere else. The more you educate them, the more the kids will realize that smoking is not good for you. I’m all for this and for these types of events. I know. I’m out here in the community, boots on the ground.”
The “Seen Enough Tobacco Day” event included a light-hearted yet pointed question and answer session with prizes, face paint- ing, musical performances from Esco Van Gogh (aka Nascier Jones) and the dance group, Raw Gen, and a late afternoon meal.
In one final show-n-tell exercise Zampi said that the tobacco industry spends $199 million a year in the state on marketing its products to teens.
“That’s more than the amount spent on junk food, alcohol and soda combined,” she told the young audience.
Molly Gisceglia of Girls Inc., right, demonstrates tobacco’s effects on the lungs to Irene Nguyen-McDowell, left, and Satya Groff, center.
The members of the musical group Raw Gen demonstrates some moves as part of “Seen Enough Tobacco Day” at the Troy Boys and Girls Club.
Audience members take part in an audience participation segment at “Seen Enough Tobacco Day” at the Troy Boys and Girls Club
Esco (Nascier Jones) provided some fancy moves along with his rapping at the “Seen Enough Tobacco Day” event at the Troy Boys and Girls Club
A few free items from Seen Enough Tobacco Day