Local teens prepare for youth summit promoting tobacco-free Tennessee
Fifteen Carter County teens are taking the lead on tobacco use prevention by attending the first ever Free and Clear Tennessee (FACT) Summit in Sevierville, Tenn. The conference will take place from July 17-19 and will include a variety of educational opportunities for youth.
“The idea is that they will go get an education with other teens about the harmfulness of tobacco use, and then they can return home and to other events across the state to be ambassadors for healthy living without tobacco,” said Jilian Reece, health educator for the Tobacco Settlement with the Carter County Health Department.
The mission of this summit is to educate youth between the ages of 13 and 18 about the harmful effects of tobacco use.
“It’s important to expose children at an early age to the negative effects of smoking and tobacco use because it is such an addictive habit,” said Lauren Meier, respiratory therapist and summit chaperone. “Studies show that once they begin, most continue the habit throughout their lifetimes.”
Summit organizers hope the event will spark a youth-led movement across the state to end tobacco use in Tennessee. One teen, Reece Townsend, said he hopes to start a video blog when he returns.
“I think that will help educate kids around the world,” Townsend said.
Others who will attend the conference said some of their grandparents are tobacco users, and some have even died from lung cancer or other tobacco-related diseases. For this reason, they said they see why it is important to never start smoking.
“The Centers for Disease Control and prevention states chronic respiratory disease is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of that is smoking,” Meier said. “So it’s totally preventable.”
For more information on the FACT movement, visit its Facebook page The Fact Movement.
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