Students learn about dangers of tobacco

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Linda Teakell, coordinator for Curry Citizens Concerned About Tobacco, briefed sixth-grade classes Tuesday at Zia Elementary about the dangers of smoking.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A group of Zia sixth-graders learned words such toluene, butane, acetone and arsenic, all of which are contained in tobacco products, during a presentation Tuesday on the dangers of smoking.

“Would you take your baby sister or baby brother and let them sniff on this,” presenter Linda Teakell asked the group, holding up a container of lighter fluid.

“No!” the group of 77 students chimed in unison.

Later, students poured beans into a can to demonstrate how many people in the United States die from unnatural causes each day.

“Every day five people die from fire,” Teakell said as the beans plunked in the can. Sixteen die every day from drug use, 46 from murder, 116 from AIDs and 1,205 from tobacco-related illness,” she said as the beans drained into the can and students reacted with “Whoas.”

“(This) is the sound of someone who dies from a death that should not have happened,” said Teakell, coordinator for Curry Citizens Concerned About Tobacco.

Teakell encouraged the students to talk with friends and family members about Thursday’s Great American Smokeout to encourage them to try quitting just one day.

Curry County Relay for Life is also kicking off its campaign to raise money for cancer research Thursday in conjunction with the national Smokeout campaign.

Teakell also pressed students to ask parents and others to smoke outside to limit second-hand smoke exposure.

“A lot of kids still have to live with second-hand smoke. We have got to get parents to understand they’ve got to take that outside,” she said to the group.

Teakell said the 11- and 12-year-olds are the best age group to target with her message. “Sixth, seventh and eighth grades, that’s when they’re more likely to try tobacco products,” she said. “It’s a very crucial time for them.”

Teakell said she is in charge of a teen group at Clovis High School that does peer presentations to younger students in the hopes of getting the message out.

Terri Damron, whose class attended the presentation, said she believes the message gets through when students are young.

Though still sheltered in elementary school, Damron said exposure to things that can harm them is just around the corner.

“We worry about them,” she said. “When they go to junior high next year they’re exposed to more. Here they are really protected.”

Dallas Holt, 12, said the most surprising thing he learned from the presentation was how many people die every day. “It’s bad for you,” he said.

Curry Citizens Concerned About Tobacco is joining the American Cancer Society for the Relay for Life Kick-Off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at The Java Loft.
Kick-Off information: 763-2261 or 762-9492