Grade 12 student Danielle MacDougall isn’t about to start smoking, especially after seeing diseased lungs during Tobacco Education Day, held yesterday at Halifax’s Mount Saint Vincent University.
“It’s kind of crazy, how destroyed some of them are,” MacDougall, 17, said of several preserved lungs on display, including those from a coal miner and a longtime smoker.
“I’ve (always) thought of it as a disgusting addiction,” the student council rep from Millwood High School in Lower Sackville said.
MacDougall was one of 300 students from the Halifax Regional School Board who weaved through six interactive stations to better understand the detrimental health impacts of tobacco use.
Heather McPeake, health promotion co-ordinator with Public Health Services, said for the first time students taking the Grade 12 health and human services class at Citadel High School organized the annual event. She pointed to a poignant activity created for students, by students.
“Everybody is going to be instructed to write the name of somebody in their lives that’s been affected by tobacco (and) they’re going to make a paper-chained link,” she said. “At the end of the day … they’re going to cut the chain in half to represent 50 per cent of the people that will die from tobacco use.”
Michael C. Derosenroll, public issues co-ordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Nova Scotia division, said young people are the prime target for the tobacco industry.
“Youths themselves know the best way to communicate and relate to other youth,” he said of teens teaching teens.
“We gave them the background information and they decided what to do with it.”
Citadel High student Kathleen Sautiere produced a video called Butt Out, Spit Out, which included disturbing stats such as there can be 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette.
“We’re here not judging them; we’re just giving them information and advising them to stop,” the 18-year-old non-smoker said. “It’s really their personal choice.”