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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
|Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. |
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Carteret, N.J. – December 2, 2003 – First Lady of New Jersey, Dina Matos McGreevey, and members of REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies), New Jersey’s youth anti-tobacco movement, visited Columbus Elementary School in Carteret today to introduce the State’s latest initiative in tobacco education — REBEL Spare the Air: A Reading and Mentoring Program.
The First Lady officially launched the program by reading Get Rid of that Smoke! to an audience of twenty-five first grade students. The book, created for New Jersey students by Scholastic, Inc. for New Jersey’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program, is about three children who discover inventive ways to clear their home of secondhand smoke.
Carolann Kane-Cavaiola, Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Addiction Services in the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), joined the State’s First Lady to kick off the reading program.
“We are honored to have Mrs. McGreevey’s support for this important initiative,” notes Ms. Kane-Cavaiola. “Through this mentoring program REBEL high school teens will be carrying their tobacco prevention message to children in kindergarten through second grade in elementary schools throughout the State. Our tobacco prevention programs have been successful in reducing smoking rates among New Jersey’s youth. This program will help to introduce children to the health risks of secondhand smoke.”
Following the reading, members of REBEL joined Mrs. McGreevey to discuss how the elementary students can help make their world smoke free. In turn, the students presented her with an oversized “thank you” card, which included a promise to educate their parents about what they learned. Mark Slocum, a founding member of REBEL, noted, “Through our mentoring program, kids learn that tobacco is dangerous and they can do something to protect themselves and their families.”
Secondhand smoke is responsible for approximately 38,000 lung cancer and heart disease deaths every year in the U.S. In 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified secondhand smoke as a Class A carcinogen – the most dangerous kind. Workers in smoke-filled environments such as restaurants and bars are 50 percent more likely to get lung cancer than workers in smoke-free environments. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to health hazards from secondhand smoke, which puts them at risk for severe respiratory and ear infections, asthma attacks, and bronchitis.
Almost 90 percent of adult smokers started smoking as teenagers and nearly 20,000 New Jersey teens become regular smokers each year. If current trends continue, 168,000 young people in New Jersey under the age of 18 will die from smoking. The New Jersey Youth Tobacco Surveys, conducted by DHSS, show that teen smoking in New Jersey has dropped by 42 percent among middle school students and by 11 percent among high school students. The REBEL message, “We are Not For Sale to Big Tobacco,” which has been a cornerstone of the campaign since its founding, resonates strongly with teens across the State.
REBEL is just one of many initiatives sponsored by DHSS and funded with money from the increase in New Jersey’s tobacco excise tax. New Jersey’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program is designed to reduce the sickness, disability, and death among New Jerseyans associated with the use of tobacco and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. To learn more about REBEL, go to www.njrebel.com.
Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360