Students petition for smoke free campus

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2005

JACKSON – No butts about it.

Students from Northampton County High School East and West are tired of what cigarettes are doing to their generation and want the school board to do something about it.

In a presentation here Monday night, students from both schools told members of the school board they wanted to see a no-smoking policy implemented on their campuses.

&uot;Initially, we thought about limiting smoking to before and after school, but we decided that’s not where we wanted it to stop but where we wanted it to begin,&uot; said Adren Underdue. &uot;We want to cut out smoking altogether and keep it completely out of our schools.&uot;

The students, who are members of Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU), cited statistics to support their request, noting that tobacco associated deaths were the most preventable kind.

&uot;Statistics show that smoke-related cancer kills 430,000 people each year,&uot; said Keaundra Robinson, a senior at NCHS-West.

Holding up a bottle of nail polish remover, a box of rat poison, mothballs and ammonia, Robinson noted, &uot;These are only a fraction of the 4,000 ingredients found in a cigarette.&uot;

According to information presented by the students, over 4,000 young people try a cigarette each day. &uot;It only takes three times of smoking a cigarette to become addicted,&uot; Robinson said.

&uot;We’re just tired of being exposed to it,&uot; said Melva Lowe, a student at NCHS-East.

The students expressed concern about maintaining a healthy environment that would not be a threat to themselves or their peers and noted that second hand smoke was the third leading preventable cause of death.

Crystal Dempsey, youth tobacco prevention coordinator for Northampton and Warren counties, said she hoped the NCHS-East and NCHS-West would be added to the list of many schools that have adopted smoke-fee schools. Smoking costs the state approximately $4.7 billion annually according to figures stated during the presentation.

Northampton County Board of Education Chairwoman Catherine Moody articulated her support for the initiative as did board member Grace Edwards.

&uot;I just want to say for the record that I wholeheartedly support what you are doing on behalf of your peers and your school,&uot; Moody said.

&uot;I think what you are doing is wonderful and we thank you for a very informative presentation,&uot; Edwards said.

The board will be giving consideration to the students’ request.