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Kicking butts: school club educates others on the dangers of smoking

The American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout is on Nov. 17. The day is used to encourage smokers to quit smoking.

On the American Cancer Society website, there is a passage talking about the Great American Smokeout. It states, "Smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life -- one that can lead to reducing cancer risk. Quitting smoking is not easy, but it can be done. To have the best chance of quitting successfully, you need to know what you're up against, what your options are and where to go for help."

There are many places where people wanting to stop smoking can turn for support. In high schools, there are groups like Raze and TATU (Teens Against Tobacco Use) that try to educate others to help them stop smoking or prevent them from starting in the first place.

Valley High School has a Raze club. If you look in the dictionary, the word "raze" means to completely destroy or tear down, and that's what Raze does -- tear down Big Tobacco's lies.

Dale Fox is the Raze leader at Valley. He says teens use tobacco because they pick it up from their peers or friends and soon enough it becomes a habit.

"Once they try four or five cigarettes, they're hooked," said Fox, a counselor at the school.

Sophomore Jacob Sargent is the teen leader for Valley's middle school Raze group. He agrees with Fox that teens pick up smoking because they see their peers doing it. He also thinks peer pressure plays a role, and teens begin using tobacco because they believe they need to in order to fit in.

"To be cooler and older, they feel the need to smoke," he said. "And seeing role models such as actors, smoke, they feel the need to try it."

"Raze informs people about tobacco and the dangers to their body, and it tries to reach out to the people pressured into experimenting," said sophomore Holly Dunlap, the teen leader for Valley's high school Raze group. "We tell them the facts and what's in tobacco, so maybe they'll stop."

 "It's all about the knowledge," Sargent added.  

With Fox's help, Sargent and Dunlap have done commotions, which is what Raze calls its anti-tobacco displays and demonstrations. Some of the things they have done include putting up informative posters, talking to fourth graders at the local elementary school about the dangers of tobacco and staging displays like using body bags to represent tobacco deaths or dressing as the Grim Reaper and informing people about Big Tobacco's lies.

In addition to having Raze meetings at school, the group also goes to "meets," which are gatherings with other Raze groups. Some members will be participating in a regional kick-off event on Nov. 12.

Visit www.razewv.com for more information or talk to your counselor or administration to see if your school has a Raze group.


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