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Thu, Oct. 17

Teen group presents sobering statistics on smoking dangers

Kingman High School senior Sarah Acer presented some sobering statistics Tuesday on the dangers of smoking during a presentation at Manzanita Elementary School.

Every day, 3,000 teen-agers begin smoking, and one-third of them will eventually die of smoking-related illnesses, Acer said.

Ninety percent of people take up smoking at age 13, she added.

Acer is a member of Kingman Youth Coalition Beating Up Teen Tobacco (KYCBUTT), a club at Kingman High School with about 25 members who explain the dangers of smoking to children.

Seniors Krystn Bailey, Mariah Miller and junior Julia Lasiloo joined Acer for the presentation in front of Sally Marquardt's fourth-grade class and Jackie Chastain's multiage third through fifth grade class.

Acer began by asking children whether they could name any of the chemicals, gases or substances found in tobacco.

Among the correct answers were nicotine, tar, nail polish remover, arsenic and carbon monoxide.

"There are over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco and the only people who know all of them are with the tobacco companies," she said.

The Manzanita pupils were then asked to give reasons why people smoke.

You look cool, it relieves stress, parents do it and friends do it, they replied.

Acer then went into advertising campaigns waged by tobacco companies.

She said actress Julia Roberts was paid $1 million to smoke in "My Best Friend's Wedding" and actor Sylvester Stallone collected $500,000 in one film for smoking a cigarette.

Girls and boys seeing Roberts and Stallone smoke probably would think it's OK and they would start, too, Acer said.

Cigarette magazine advertising and other ads inside gas stations have been strategically placed by candy racks to convey powerful messages, she said.

Some NASCAR race drivers are sponsored by tobacco companies and their cars carry the companies' names around the track.

Put the driver in clothing with tobacco logos and the images stick in your mind, Acer said.

Acer and her KYCBUTT associates also put on a skit titled "Patsy the Pressured Pig."

Lasiloo portrayed Patsy, Acer was a "porkette" friend and Bailey a police officer, while Miller narrated the skit.

Patsy was a happy pig until peer pressure from her friend led Patsy to make a poor choice.

The friend convinced Patsy to attend a pork head party where cigarettes and beer were available.

Police raided the party because of underage smoking and drinking and arrested Patsy and everyone else.

"The moral is he who plays with pork heads pays with punishment," Miller said as the skit ended.

Smoking one cigarette takes 12 minutes out of your life, Acer told her audience.

Tobacco use, whether through cigarettes or chewing tobacco, has many unpleasant consequences.

They include yellow teeth, missing teeth and cancer of the gums or palate, Acer said.

The KYCBUTT group also showed a jar containing tar, a principle ingredient in cigarettes.

Tar accumulates in the lungs at the rate of one quart per year for someone who smokes one pack per day.

Children participated in an experiment to drive home the dangers of smoking as the presentation neared its conclusion.

Everyone was directed to run in place for 30 seconds.

Each child then inserted a straw in his or her mouth, pinched their nostrils closed and tried to breath.

Many began coughing.

That's what it's like for a smoker, Acer said.

Acer also said 1,200 people die from smoking every day.

A question-and-answer session concluded the presentation.

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