School Leaders Target 100% Participation in Smoke-Free Pledge
BUFFALO, NY —Sweet Home High School students are learning more about ways to prevent and treat adolescent tobacco use through the Rise Above Tobacco Prevention Program. The program, funded by a grant to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), uses incentives to reward students who make a positive choice by choosing not to use tobacco.
“The Rise Above Tobacco Prevention Program offers the students tools, information and incentives to remain smoke-free or to stop smoking,” said Beverly Ann Shipe, Sweet Home Central School District Nurse Practitioner and Health Teacher. “While Rise Above gives students incentives to stop or never start smoking, we also provide education about the practices used to entice adolescents to use tobacco products.”
Nearly 90% of regular smokers start smoking before the age of 18. While there are several factors that contribute to adolescent smoking, tobacco product marketing at retail stores makes using tobacco products attractive and appealing. Research has found that tobacco products displays in retail outlets increase cigarette sales and encourage impulse buying by both adults and youth.
Sweet Home High School senior and Rise Above participant Kailey McDonald said, “No one wants to see the promotions in stores. Tobacco products should be put away where kids can’t see it. My friends think smoking is gross.”
“Our youth face enough obstacles and make tough decisions every day, so they don’t need to be constantly bombarded by walls of tobacco product displays when they go into a store to buy a snack,” said Anthony Billoni, Director of the Erie-Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition.
“We need to take a stand to get tobacco out of our communities and make the health and well-being of our youth the priority,” added K. Michael Cummings, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at RPCI. “The Rise Above Program at Sweet Home School uses incentives to reinforce making positive choices. However, we also need to do more to limit the ways tobacco products are marketed in our community.”
Students who join the Rise Above Tobacco Prevention program take a pledge to be tobacco-free for the school year. Every student who registers for the program receives a red wristband, a membership card for discounts to local businesses and is eligible for chances to win gift cards. In a random drawing each month, eight registered students win a gift card to the Boulevard Mall. Local businesses who offer student discounts are Moe’s Grill, Adventure Landing, Adventure Speedway, Niagara Climbing Center, Tonawanda Bowling Center, Family Video, Friendly’s Restaurants, Lasertron, Kenmore Lanes and Mike’s Subs. Students also have the opportunity to join an after-school leadership program where they encourage classmates to participate in Rise Above.
“Last year the program was well received by students and faculty. More than 67% of the student body registered in Rise Above,” said Joleen Reinholz, Sweet Home High School Principal. “Our goal for this second year is to have the entire school enroll in the tobacco preventive incentive program.”
Students will receive tobacco educational materials that include information about the harmful effects of tobacco and information on lifestyle changes. Information on ways to build resistance skills to avoid initiation of tobacco use, how to quit using tobacco products and contact information for community cessation resources such as quit lines and Internet resources also are available.
Sweet Home High School is one of two schools in Western New York participating in the Rise Above Tobacco Prevention Program. The program is part of a research initiative, funded by the National Institute of Health, being conducted by researchers at RPCI and Yale University.
The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email email@example.com.