On Wednesday afternoon, Cache Valley students braved the rain on the USU Quad to raise awareness of the dangers associated with tobacco use as part of Kick Butts Day, an annual event organized by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
“It’s a day of activism that empowers youth to stand up and speak out against Big Tobacco,” said BreeAnn Silcox, a health educator with Bear River Health Department who advises the Bear River Governing Youth Council.
The students planned for weeks to prepare the display on the Quad at USU, Silcox said. They cut tombstones from posterboard and wrote facts about the risks of tobacco use on each one.
“It gives a visual representation about some of the things that could happen from using tobacco,” Silcox said.
Lexie Garvin, a sophomore at Ridgeline High School, said the cause was personal for her.
“This matters to me because I’ve seen tobacco personally impact my family,” Garvin said. “They start becoming so dependent on it that it takes away from other aspects of their lives.”
Garvin said there’s a special focus on educating youth about e-cigarettes this year.
Recently, a new e-cigarette called JUUL made national headlines for its popularity with students.
“Original cigarettes, when they first came out, were thought to be this cool thing,” Garvin said. “And then all these studies came out, anti-tobacco programs came, and it dramatically cut down on smoking. Now we have e-cigarettes, which are basically the new cigarette.”
Dylan Fallentine, a junior at Mountain Crest High School, said many students don’t understand the risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes.
“We just want everyone to know what’s actually going on with these products,” Fallentine said.
Fallentine said he’s happy to have the opportunity to speak out against tobacco use.
“I’ve had multiple peers that I’ve known since very early on who got into this stuff,” Fallentine said. “Anything I can do to help is something I feel like I have to do.”
The Bear River Governing Youth Council joined more than 1,000 youth groups across the nation organizing special events for Kick Butts Day.