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Youth learn tobacco-free advocacy at summit
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Consequences of teen smoking

• Chronic cough
• Reduced stamina
• Bad breath
• Yellow teeth
• Stinky clothes
• Expensive habit — one pack a day equals more than $1,000/year


Teens from Liberty, Long, Chatham and Toombs counties learned how to advocate for tobacco-free school and park policies at a youth summit last Saturday at Savannah State University in Savannah. The summit was sponsored by the Coastal Health District as part of the State Tobacco Youth Prevention Program.
The program aims to “reduce the use of tobacco” and help prevent disease related to tobacco use through “prevention and control,” according to the Georgia Department of Community Health.
Fifty out of 181 public school systems in the state so far have adopted a 100 percent tobacco-free school policy, according to the health department’s website. The state department of community health stated this policy protects an estimated 850,000 youth from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
“The Tobacco Free Schools Project was initiated to reduce teen tobacco use and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke (a Class A carcinogen),” states The policy helps prohibit the use of tobacco products on school property including classroom buildings, outside grounds and even buses. The policy also applies to all off-campus sponsored events.
Four students from Liberty County attended the summit, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention director Cristina Gibson said. Local attendees included Tyshajuana Stevens, Mark Munden, Cory Duvall and Kajia Joyner, Gibson said.
Joyner, a Bradwell Institute sophomore and a non-smoker, said she knows “a lot of kids who smoke” and says their smoking is a serious health concern.
“I try to tell them it (smoking) is not cool,” she said Monday. “Even when you wash your clothes you can smell it and your voice, over time, gets raspy.”
Joyner said she was shocked to learn that chemicals like ammonia go into the manufacturing of some cigarettes.
“Kids my age around the world are smoking this stuff,” she said.
In addition to lung cancer, tobacco use can cause cancer of the tongue, mouth and throat, Joyner said.
Although most stores won’t sell cigarettes to underage customers, Joyner said some teens find a way around the law. She said she often sees older students, 18-year-olds, buying cigarettes for their younger friends.
Joyner added she learned a lot of facts at the summit, and will pass the knowledge on to her teachers and fellow students.
“It was interesting and entertaining,” she said.
According to, 80 percent of smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Of the 3,900 teenagers that start smoking each day, 1,500 will become regular smokers, the website stated, and are at greater risk for drug and alcohol use, violence and high-risk sexual behavior.

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