The Community Service Club at Lake Region Union High School sponsored a Tobacco Prevention event in the school cafeteria on April 30. The Community Service Club is brand new this year. The mission of the club is not only to better the local community , but to improve the members self-esteem. Through their volunteer work , club members create a sense of community, develop compassion for others while learning to appreciate what they have. The club has exceeded their goal of participating in one community event each month.

The Tobacco Prevention event was organized with the guidance of the Community Service coordinator, Jennifer Woolard. Nancy Rae, Community Health educator from North Country Hospital and representative of the HealthWorks O.N.E. coalition, provided materials and expertise. Several club members (Keshia Paddleford, Emily Bouffard, Katie Powers and Amber Vreeland) advertised and helped monitor the various activities throughout the day. The activities are part of the Vermont Department of Health 2012 Teen Campaign.

Many faculty and students took advantage of a unique photo opportunity by assuming the persona of one of the "Guts" campaign characters: the lungs, stomach or brain. The familiar VDH commercial promoted the message that "Just because you have tried smoking doesn't mean you are a smoker". A second important message encouraged students to "Quit while you're ahead." Information on the risks of smoking and smokeless tobacco was provided. Information on Quit Services available through the Vermont Quit Network was also included.

According to the 2011 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey smoking rates amongst Vermont teens have dropped significantly this year. Statewide the percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 who have smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days dropped from 16 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2011. Unfortunately these statistics are not true for Orleans County. In Orleans county 21 percent of local students reported that they had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days. This event was designed to increase local teen's knowledge of the short term and long term risks associated with tobacco use. With the help of the Vermont Department of Health, the school and local Prevention Coalitions that number may decrease. Let's hope by this time next spring, Orleans County will be closer to the state average of 13 percent.

For more information on Tobacco Risks or available support for people interested in quitting: contact Nancy Rae at 334-3290. If you would like to learn more about the HealthWorks O.N.E. Prevention Coalition email healthworksone@gmail.com or call 334-4384.

Students can learn more about tobacco use and the roll of Big Tobacco companies by visiting one of the following websites: www.OVX.org, www.goVKAT.org; www.tobaccofreekids.org; www.TheTruth.com. If you have a community event and are in need of volunteers, contact the Community Service Club at Lake Region Union High School.

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