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Creative Students in Elk Grove Win Anti-Tobacco Billboard Contest | Health

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Creative Students in Elk Grove Win Anti-Tobacco Billboard Contest
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Creative Students in Elk Grove Win Anti-Tobacco Billboard Contest

Billboards around the Sacramento region are spreading a message about the dangers of smoking, and the artists behind the artwork are students. It's part of Kaiser Permanente’s “Don’t Buy the Lie” program now in its 24th year. Students throughout the Sacramento region were invited to design an anti-smoking message and submit the image for a chance at a $1,000 gift card and to have their design appear on dozens of billboards. This year, students in the Elk Grove Unified School district claimed both top prizes. The middle school winner was Kirin Vang from Toby Johnson Middle School. Her poster showed an image of a marionette on strings below two cigarettes. The message was “Don’t Let Your Addiction Control You.” The high school winning submission came from six students at Franklin High School, calling themselves “Team V:” Davion Clarke, Patrick Cunanan, Katrina Do, Tyrese Everett, Leann Kamaya and Darlene Tran. Their poster compared tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes. The message was “Ashes or Ashless: Don’t Let It Fool You.” Winners received a $1,000 gift card and will see their artwork displayed on billboards throughout the Sacramento area during the months of May and June. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. Statistics like those make the anti-smoking message as relevant and vital as ever. “We know that nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking in their teens. Kids are smart but they need our help,” said Sean Cooke, MD, chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento. “They need to be educated from a young age about the dangers of smoking and how to handle peer pressure when confronted with it.” A telephone survey of past “Don't Buy the Lie” program participants showed that 98 percent are non-smokers today. This survey shows the program as an effective prevention strategy to stop teens from using tobacco. “The goal of Don’t Buy the Lie is to combat tobacco advertising and even peer pressure with powerful anti-smoking messages. We wanted students to find a unique way to share that message and reward them for their creativity,” said Kaiser Permanente program coordinator Tamara Wilgus. Dr. Cooke said teenagers sharing these anti-tobacco messages can be a good resource. “Who can be better at flipping peer pressure around than their own peers? I'm really proud of the middle school and high school winners from the Elk Grove area and the many other students in Sacramento region who submitted their ideas. Their messages are powerful and will resonate well with their classmates,” said Cooke. For more information on the program, visit: www.kpdbtl.com

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