Arizona Teens Combat Tobacco Use With Community Pledges and 'No-smoking' Art

World No Tobacco Day, May 31, Calls for Ban of Tobacco Advertising and Promotion

May 22, 2013, 12:59 ET from STAND

PHOENIX, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Arizona teens have united this month in the global fight to end tobacco use. As members of the statewide anti-tobacco youth coalition STAND (Students Taking a New Direction), they are working to shed light on the dangers of tobacco use and will host a variety of events to mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31—led internationally by the World Health Organization (WHO), World No Tobacco Day is a global call-to-action against the tobacco industry.

The theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day is "Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship." As a counter to their advertising, some teens were asked to create 'no-smoking' art work, which is featured on the STAND website now. The public can vote for their favorite image, through May 26.

On the ground, scores of students set up No Tobacco Pledge Walls in high traffic areas such as city and town halls, local super markets and other businesses, and work year-round to increase awareness about tobacco use in their local communities.  They have encouraged others to reject the tobacco industry's deceptive messages and urged local leaders to protect kids from being recruited as a new generation of smokers.  They will conclude their May initiative with a special surprise for local community members who stop by on World No Tobacco Day on May 31. Specific locations and times are listed on the STAND website.

"What better way to support this year's focus on banning tobacco promotion than for us to be out here promoting our own anti-tobacco message," said 16-year-old Arizona Collegiate High School student, Alex Molina.  "Plus, we will have a fun surprise for everyone. So come out, make a pledge and join us."

According to WHO, tobacco kills nearly six million people worldwide each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. In the United States alone, more than 500,000 people die from tobacco use annually, which is more than 1,400 each day, and 50,000 die from the effects of second-hand smoke.

Arizona Tobacco Stats at a Glance:

  • 17.4 percent of Arizona high school students smoke
  • 6,000 Arizona kids under 18 become new daily smokers each year
  • 227,000 Arizona kids are exposed to second-hand smoke at home
  • 10.4 percent of male high school students use smokeless or spit tobacco
  • 19.2 percent of adults smoke

(Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids)