Teens in central Louisiana lead anti-tobacco initiative

ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana (KALB) – On Saturday, high school students from across central Louisiana gathered at the Alexandria Mall to encourage people to drop off their tobacco products.

Students participate in the national Next Era program in partnership with the Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center.

At the mall, students were able to see some of the harmful health effects of tobacco, as well as resources on how to kick the addiction. Along with cigarettes and chewing tobacco, the students also focused on vaping, as teen nicotine addiction often begins with vaping.

“In Louisiana, about 40 percent of high schoolers vape or smoke or might even dive,” said Addison Jacobsen, a high school junior and Next Era member. “These numbers are going up and you can see if you look at statistics in the United States as cigarette smoking goes down, vaping goes up, goes up tragically so it’s becoming a huge problem and going on so it’s the best it’s time to fight this now.

Although the students spoke with anyone about the dangers of smoking, the event targeted other teens. The community resource coordinator for Central Louisiana AHEC Region Six said having high school students carry the message about the dangers of smoking 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 quit,” Lee said. “So when teenagers go out and do their own initiatives among their peers, they really have a bigger impact.”

To learn more about AHEC Central Louisiana, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about Next Era, CLICK HERE.

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