ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - On Saturday, high school students from across Central Louisiana gathered at the Alexandria Mall to encourage people to put down their tobacco products.
The students are involved in the statewide Next Era program in partnership with the Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center.
At the Mall, the students had a display of some of the harmful health effects tobacco use leads to, as well as resources on how to quit the addiction. Aside from cigarettes and chewing tobacco, the students also focused on vaping, as teenage nicotine addiction now often begins with vaping.
“Around Louisiana, about 40% of high schoolers vape or smoke or could even dip,” said Addison Jacobsen, a junior in high school and Next Era member. “Those numbers are increasing and you can see if you look through any statistics in the U.S. while smoking cigarettes is actually decreasing, vaping is going up, tragically going up, so it’s becoming a huge problem and is continuing to, so this is the best time to be fighting this right now.”
Although the students spoke with anyone about the danger of tobacco use, the event was targeting other teens. Community Resource Coordinator for Region Six at Central Louisiana AHEC said having the high school students deliver the message about the dangers of tobacco use to their peers can often be more powerful than hearing the same message from adults.
“It’s important because teens really listen to their peers more than they listen to us telling them to stop smoking,” said Lee. “So, by the teens going out and doing their own initiatives amongst their peers, they really have a greater impact.”
To learn more about Central Louisiana AHEC, CLICK HERE.
To learn more about Next Era, CLICK HERE.