Teens take action vs. tobacco
This photo of Nick Wong is featured on the reactmt.org Web site.

Teens will take their anti-tobacco message to MontanaFair.

Working with the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program and reACT! Against Corporate Tobacco, Billings-area and Carbon County students, will operate a booth at the fair at MetraPark on Aug. 9 and 12.

The booth will have information about tobacco dangers, including a display showing what goes into cigarettes, "like rat poison," says Kassi Stabio, of Riverstone Health, who works with teens through the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program.

The booth also will have a pledge wall so people can leave their handprints and pledge not to use tobacco. "Talking the Walk" will include statistics on tobacco's toll on Montanans.

For instance, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says 18,000 kids alive today in Montana will ultimately die because of smoking if the current level of smoking continues.

Information from the campaign notes that "Smoking, alone, kills more people each year than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.

"For every person in Montana who dies from smoking approximately 20 more state residents are suffering from serious smoking-caused disease and disability, or other tobacco-caused health problems."

According to the campaign, 20 percent of high-school students in Montana smoke, and 20.3 percent of boys in high school use smokeless tobacco.

With the youth anti-tobacco program, Stabio works with students in Billings middle and high schools and at Lockwood Middle School. Projects for Red Ribbon Week in October and placing tombstones along a road to signify tobacco-related deaths and other activities on Halloween with Lockwood students are just some of the projects.

The fair booth will be in Kids' World in the Sandstone Building.

A core group of teens meets regularly in a leadership role for reACT!

Recently teenagers from Yellowstone, Stillwater and Carbon counties created T-shirts outside the Music Festival near Red Lodge to give to teens at the event.

Nik Wong, a junior at Skyview High, is among those teens and has been a member of the statewide Teen Leadership Team for the group for two years.

He is featured in a nationally created poster campaign designed to increase awareness about corporate marketing to promote tobacco use that's aimed at teens. Nik also has been involved in activism and educational events promoting such awareness.

The new Montana reACT! Web site at www.reactmt.com features a team member from around the state. Right now, Nik's photo is featured along with a quote from his poster.

Teens interested in getting involved in the anti-tobacco programs can get information at the fair booth or by contacting Stabio at 651-6466 or at kassi.sta@riverstonehealth.org.

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