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Teaching Youth How To Fight Tobacco Marketing

There is a statewide initiative to combat youth cigarette and tobacco product use that focuses on teaching our youth all about the power of cigarette and tobacco marketing in local stores and in advertising in general. 

Although Joe Camel, a popular advertising tool for Camel cigarettes, is no longer permitted in youth magazines and publications, there remain many avenues used by cigarette companies to lure young people into beginning, what they hope, will be a lifelong addiction to cigarettes and tobacco products.  

The statewide initiative, which has been effective nationwide, was brought to Glen Cove High School the week of Dec. 10 by the SAFE Pride Project Coalition’s School Committee who partnered with the Glen Cove School District’s Health, Physical Education and Athletic Department and the Tobacco Action Coalition of LI.

Safe Inc.’s Pride Project Coalition conducts needs assessments every two years to measure youth alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. In 2012, the Bach Harrison Prevention Needs Assessment Survey indicated tobacco use had increased from 2010 across grades 6, 8, 10, and 12. 

• Since the 2010 survey, past-month cigarette use increased for all grades (0.5 percent increase in the sixth grade, 2.5 percent increase in the eighth grade, 3.2 percent increase in the 10th grade, and 2.3 percent increase in the 12th grade). 

• 14.4 percent of eighth-graders have tried smoking at least once in their lifetime. Although this rate is below the national MTF rate of 20 percent, it still shows a large increase from sixth grade. 

• The 30-day use rate among eighth-graders is 3.3 percent, which is an increase from 2010 (0.8 percent).

• Lifetime cigarette use continues to rise into the 10th grade (32.3 percent) and 12th grade (40.4 percent)

Dr. Sharon Harris, SAFE’s Executive Director, said that the Coalition’s School Committee, chaired by Denise Kiernan, partnered with Carol Meschkow, Nassau project coordinator of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island, to implement the We’ve Seen Enough campaign at Glen Cove High School.

“Our relationship with the tobacco coalition has helped us educate and make students and staff aware of tobacco marketing and cigarette use among teens,” said Kiernan, who is also the director of health at Glen Cove High School. “Dr. Sharon Harris and Pride Project Coordinator Aimee Abraham were big players in coordinating this event.”

The activities included the viewing of two compelling videos, one that has a middle school student being followed by tobacco reps that are encouraging her to smoke, and another, depicting an elementary school age girl in a deli who is surprised when she is spoken to by cigarettes behind the counter. 

The message is clear. Tobacco companies are working hard to encourage youth to smoke. 

Part of the program also included an opportunity for students to sign team comment postcards, and for teachers to sign an adult postcard stating their support for ending the advertising campaigns and smoking among youth which they plan to send to the state. 

On Friday, there was a poster outside the lunchroom to involve all students in the program. They could sign it voicing their support for an end to the cigarette marketing techniques as well as the postcards. And the videos were showing on a nearby screen throughout the day. Many students stopped by because they were curious at first, but once finding out about the initiative they committed to helping by becoming involved.

“The challenge is to get the students to advocate, to make it more challenging for the tobacco companies to do their marketing,” said Coalition Co-Chair Tony Gallo. “The idea is to get tobacco products less visible in convenience stores by signing this poster and sending the postcards to New York State lawmakers and we are doing that.”

Gallo said the children were very interested in the program. They realize that they are being targeted and were interested in finding what avenues they could use to advocate for themselves.  

Teens as Teachers, who are youth leaders at the high school, and student volunteers manned the tables outside the gym encouraging their peers to sign the poster and asking them if they smoked too.

“Being able to see these youth advocate-defending their right to a bright future for themselves, and for the generations that will come after them, is the hope that fuels our work here in Glen Cove,” said Pride Project Coordinator Aimee Abraham. 

Carol Meschkow, the Nassau project coordinator for the Tobacco Action Coalition (TAC), said she was impressed by the student leaders that manned the tables. “They assumed the role of peer mentors and ambassadors of the initiative,” she said. “It is so rewarding to see youth leaders emerge as a result of one these programs.”

The Glen Cove teens want to also write to their local newspapers to make others in their community aware of the dangers of tobacco marketing.

“I didn’t realize the significance advertising had on children,” said Caitlin Brown, one of the students at the table. “I feel like we should also do this in gym class instead of just health class since all the kids take gym.”

Taylor Grella, also behind the table encouraging her peers to check out all of the information and fill out the post cards, said she’d learned a great deal this past week. “I didn’t know that cigarettes have tar in them like the blacktops on the street,” she said. 

Sara Testa was surprised by just how much power the placement of cigarettes behind the counter has on young children which she learned in one of the videos. “I also didn’t know there is rat poison in cigarettes,” she added.

Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton went to the high school to commend students for their efforts saying she was proud to participate. 

“I have always been very impressed by all that SAFE does to protect the children of Glen Cove and am very happy to support them however possible,” said DeRiggi-Whitton. “The issues that SAFE deals with are close to my heart and are issues that I have made a priority in my own work at the legislature - from prescription drug abuse to cigarette marketing and sales.”  

Even though the weeklong event is over, the high school students say they don’t want the initiative to end. There is talk about hanging the postcards around the school before sending them to the state so everyone can read them and become more committed to not smoking.

The Teens as Teachers and Youth Volunteers included: Caitlin Brown, Nicole Bedell, Surina Joshi, Taylor Grella, Sara Testa, Diana Delgado, Cindy Hernandez, Yanire Pizarro, Joseph Reyes and Anthony Guttilla.

For further information on SAFE, Inc. PRIDE Project Coalition and their initiatives contact Coalition Coordinator Aimee Abraham at 516-676-2008. SAFE Inc. is a not-for-profit tax-exempt substance abuse education and prevention agency located in Glen Cove. Visit www.safeglencove.org and www.facebook.com/GlenCovePrideCoalition.

News

 It has been five years since a particularly heavy rainfall closed all the beaches in Glen Cove including Crescent Beach. As per Nassau County Department of Health standards, beaches are ordered closed after heavy rainfall because of storm water runoff that adversely affects bacteria levels at local beaches. Typically, bacteria levels subside within a day or so, allowing for the beaches to be reopened. This was not the way it went with one popular beach after the June 2009 rain storm.

 

“Unfortunately, this was not the case with Crescent Beach,” said Glen Cove Parks & Recreation Director, Darcy Belyea, at last Wednesday night’s public forum at Glen Cove City Hall. “Elevated levels of microbiological contamination continued to be found in the bathing water months after the heavy rain and recent samples show they are still elevated today.”

 

Belyea was one of a number of panelists at the public forum, which included Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, City Attorney Charles McQuair, Director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Eric Swenson and representatives from the Nassau County Department of Health. 

Movie lovers once again have a chance to see first-run films in the theater without having to travel far. Glen Cove Cinemas re-opened last week, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and free films offered to celebrate the occasion. 

 

“Thanks to all of the support we have here and all of you, Glen Cove is once again open for business,” said Mayor Reginald Spinello at the ceremony, held outside the theater on Thursday, April 10. “We were scheduled to open last week, and there were a few things that weren’t ready...I got a call from the theater operator, Jay Levinson, and he told me that unfortunately, that day Spiderman had the flu,” he joked. “But, Spiderman is well and Glen Cove is well, and we are coming back strong. This is just the beginning. This is going to be so good for Glen Cove and the surrounding communities.”


Sports

 

Glen Cove High School players, from left, Tajah Garner, Dejon Taylor, Manny Sican, and Ralik Jackson, after the Long Island Colts u18’s team vs. St. Anthony’s at Robert Finley Middle School last week. Touchdown ‘tries’ by Garner, Taylor and Sican.


The third- and fourth-grade Knights took to the road last weekend as they faced off against Jericho early Sunday morning, April 6.  Jericho’s teamwork and hustle brought down the Knights by a final score of 5 – 0.  The early game may have been a factor as the boys started to play better and more like a team as the game went on.  Once again, goalie Tyler Shea played outstanding in goal and was relieved by Christian Maiorano, who did just as well in the second half.  Andrew Guster played solid defense in the loss.


Calendar

Eggstravaganza - April 16

Live Music - April 16

Community Easter Egg Hunt - April 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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