OLBH class seeks to halt adolescent tobacco use

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2003

The statistics are alarming: according to the Tobacco Free Ohio organization, 40 percent of all children in the Buckeye state reported smoking cigarettes within the last 30 days.

In fact, Ohio children and teens spent $21 million on cigarettes in 1994. And nearly 19 percent of all Ohio teenaged boys use smokeless tobacco on a regular basis. Nationwide nearly 3,000 kids become smokers every day.

A new tobacco education class, offered by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, is aiming to keep children from picking up the habit that is often called one of the hardest to quit.

Email newsletter signup

"Our primary focus is to educate kids about the harmful effects of tobacco and what it can do to their body," OLBH tobacco educator Terri Brammer said. "We use videos with real-life stories, and we have a lot of hands-on exercises. We have an inflatable lung with a cancerous growth. We show them a jar of tar. We also do an exercise

that shows them how much money a person could spend if they used tobacco.

"We add up how much it costs to smoke or use use smokeless tobacco. From the cheapest to the most expensive, they learn how much money is thrown away on tobacco," Brammer said.

The program was debuted in August, at the start of the 2002-03 school year. It is funded by a grant from Tobacco Settlement monies.

On Monday, Brammer took her presentation to Dawson-Bryant High School freshmen. Health teacher Joe Rowe said tobacco education is needed at the "grass-roots levels of education" for prevention and education purposes. He is pleased OLBH offers such an informative program.

"In my 10 years as an educator, the tobacco cessation and prevention program instituted by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, by Terri Brammer, is by far the best," DBHS health teacher Joe Rowe said. "It's the most information-packed prevention program I've seen. We are fortunate to have this program.

"Tobacco may be one of the biggest areas of concerns, not only for educators, but also for parents."

Brammer said, for the most part, the students are receptive of her program.

"The kids respond well," she said. "A lot are surprised with the effects of tobacco. They think of (tobacco-related diseases) in old age, but what we've shown is that even young teens can be affected by it."

Brammer said the longevity of the program is dependant on continuing to receive grant monies.

While only two districts in Lawrence County are involved in the tobacco education project, Brammer said the class has gotten attention from other school districts. South Point, Chesapeake and Rock Hill school officials have expressed an interest in having their students attend the program.