Adair County teens rally against big tobacco

BY CHAD HUNTER
Reporter
03/18/2020 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Rocky Mountain School students Katelyn Wilson, 13, left, and Sallie McMurrian, 14, create an anti-smoking poster March 11 in Stilwell to help celebrate national “Take Down Tobacco Day.” CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Notes written by Adair County high school students offer reasons they don’t smoke. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Students from Zion Public School try to determine what’s in a vape cloud March 11 as part of national “Take Down Tobacco Day.” CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Junior high and high school students from Adair County pick up cigarette butts along Stilwell’s Main Street on March 11 as part of national “Take Down Tobacco Day.” CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
STILWELL – Anti-smoking Adair County students rallied against the tobacco industry on March 11 by highlighting potentially harmful ingredients in tobacco, picking up cigarette butts and in general “airing out tobacco’s dirty laundry.”

“We’re here to try to bring awareness for smoking,” said Brooklyn Cheromiah, 16, a Cherokee Nation citizen and president of the Stilwell High School Student Wellness Action Team. “A lot of young kids do it now. I feel like we need to prevent that because it’s causing so much death. I feel like us being here really impacts the teenagers that we go to school with, and I feel like it will change our high school.”

The teenagers, representing Stilwell High School, Zion Public School and Rocky Mountain School, are members of their respective SWAT organizations. They celebrated the national Take Down Tobacco day early due to the upcoming spring break. Many students, including Keegan Hallmark, 14, have pledged to be tobacco-free.

“I don’t think it’s good for kids, you know,” he said. “There’s an age limit for a reason. It can really cause some damage.”

The Stilwell high-schoolers were in charge of “airing out tobacco’s dirty laundry” in written messages on T-shirts, according to Shaina Johnson, an educator with Cherokee Nation Public Health. CN Public Health coordinates a Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust or TSET grant in Adair County.

“Some of the stuff we’ve done today was like ‘today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential customer,’” Stilwell student and CN citizen Tylie Pritchett, 16, said.

Zion students tackled vaping.

“Our project today was how many chemicals are in a vape cloud,” Zion student and CN citizen Snowda Watie, 14, said.

Students from Rocky Mountain were tasked with creating posters that highlighted the various chemicals found in cigarettes.

“We’re talking about what’s in cigarettes and what you’re inhaling when you smoke cigarettes,” student and CN citizen Sallie McMurrian, 14, said. “There are more than 7,000 chemicals, so when you smoke one, there’s 600 ingredients in a cigarette.”

“Take Down Tobacco,” a new take on “Kick Butts Day,” is a platform for “empowering people to stand up and speak out against the tobacco industry,” according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“Over the past quarter century, the U.S. has made remarkable progress in doing just what the ‘Kick Butts Day’ name describes: kicking butts,” the organization’s website states. “But even though youth smoking rates are on a downward trend and at an all-time low, skyrocketing youth e-cigarettes rates are reversing the progress we’ve made toward achieving the first tobacco-free generation. And of course, from cigarettes and cigars to smokeless tobacco to heat-not-burn cigarettes, the tobacco industry peddles a wide range of addictive and dangerous products that put kids at risk across the globe.”

About the Author
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late  ...
chad-hunter@cherokee.org • 918-453-5269
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late ...

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