County students take #039;stand#039; against tobacco

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2003

Some Lawrence County elementary school students are learning that their inky handprint on a grocery bag may be worth more than a thousand words.

Fourth-graders in all county schools have handprinted grocery bags during recent visits from Family Guidance Center representatives. Making those handprints, the logo of the Stand anti-tobacco program, represents children taking their "stand" against tobacco use. Starting Thursday, these bags will be distributed throughout the county in various grocery stores to let others know about their stand. The distribution date of the bags coincides with today's Great American Smokeout.

This program is one of several anti-tobacco programs beginning in Lawrence County thanks to a 3-year, $750,000, awarded to the Appalachian Children and Family First Foundation by the Ohio Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation, said Mollie Stevens, prevention coordinator for the Family Guidance Center. The council has collaborated with the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, Family Guidance Center, the Lawrence County Health Department and the Lawrence County Board of MR/DD to secure the grant and provide prevention services.

Email newsletter signup

Fourth-graders are not the only ones taking part. Young people ages 11-18 are visiting the schools to educate the students on the dangers of tobacco, Stevens said.

"I've learned that younger people will listen to their peers - sometimes more than adults," she said.

The 11- to 18-year-olds teaching the students have combined both visual and audio aids in one of their demonstrations. Stevens said they placed BBs in coffee cans, with one BB signifying a person dead from common killers such as car accidents. In one year, she said, 1,200 people will die as a result of tobacco use or its affects. Hearing 1,200 BBs in a can has a profound affect on the children, she said.

The fourth-graders, Stevens said, have seriously surprised her with their intelligent questions and knowledge of how addictive tobacco is.

"The kids are very concerned about family members and the effects of secondhand smoke," she said.

The Family Guidance Center had programs similar to these in the 1990s, but their focus was primarily on illegal drugs, Stevens said.

More than 800 bags will be distributed at stores including Foodfair stores in Coal Grove, South Point and Proctorville, the Chesapeake Foodland, Pick 'N Save in Ironton, Bartram and Son Grocers in Ironton, and Dickess Market and R & D Convenience Store along State Route 141. The stores will have bags primarily from children attending schools close to them, Stevens said.