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Seminar delivers anti-smoking message

May 24, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH

Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — "Eeeewh! I'm never going to smoke if that's what it looks like," was the unequivocal reaction of 13-year-old McCabe Union Elementary School seventh-grader April Myers.

April was attending the Tobacco-Free Youth Summit on Thursday at the Barbara Worth Golf Resort and had just been handed a plastic model of a human lung — one blackened and diseased by cigarette smoking.

Organized by the student well-being and family resources arm of the Imperial County Office of Education, the summit had teens mentoring teens as an effective way of getting the anti-smoking message across.

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One of those mentors was Karina Rabago, a 16-year-old junior at Southwest High School in El Centro.

"I just want other kids to know exactly what is in cigarettes — all the stuff the tobacco companies don't tell them about," she said.

Karina agreed that a lot of high school students still see smoking as desirable.

"A lot of kids still think it's something cool to do and like it's something you have to be doing to blend in, be part of the trend," she said.

Frustrating Karina is a widely held belief among students that smoking helps relieve stress.

"They don't realize the stress they're feeling is coming from being addicted to the tobacco because it's a drug," the young anti-smoking advocate said.

The next event Karina and her fellow mentors will be involved in is the Summer Jam from May 31-June 1 at The Plunge in El Centro.

The event will be a sleep-over and junior high and high school students are invited to attend. There will be presentations on drugs, alcohol and tobacco. For further details call 312 -6498.

>>Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or dingo87@earthlink.net

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