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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   April 20, 2002

 

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg
(609) 984-7160


NEW JERSEY YOUTH MOBILIZE AGAINST
ENVIRONMENTAL TOBACCO SMOKE

REBEL Members Call on New Jerseyans to "Spare the Air"

WEST LONG BRANCH - More than 500 teens from REBEL, the state's youth anti-tobacco movement, today embarked on a year-long campaign to reduce environmental tobacco smoke in their communities. Environmental tobacco smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death and disability in the nation.

"Spare the Air: It's What We Breathe" is the theme of the initiative begun at the REBEL (Reaching Everyone By Exposing Lies) Statewide Summit held at the Ocean Place Conference Resort in West Long Branch. At the summit, teens developed leadership and advocacy skills to help them become effective community activists in the fight against environmental tobacco smoke. They also began work on campaign materials for their schools and communities.

"We must protect the health of our families and communities, and one way to do that is to encourage young people not to smoke," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. "Governor James E. McGreevey has proposed a budget that devotes $30 million to the state's Comprehensive Tobacco Control program, which includes youth anti-tobacco programs such as REBEL. Reducing environmental tobacco smoke is a core goal of the tobacco control program."

Since it began in November 2000, REBEL has grown from 340 members to more than 7,000 members from all 21 counties.

During opening ceremonies, the teens heard from keynote speaker Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, who was the subject of the movie The Insider. Dr. Wigand told the participants that people who start smoking before age 15 are 10 times more likely to contract cancer than those who start at age 25. "The tobacco industry puts profits ahead of public health and safety," Dr. Wigand said.

Also featured was U.S. Senator Jon S. Corzine, who also met individually with students. New York Giants linebacker Dhani Jones also spoke, sharing a personal story about his grandfather, who died of lung cancer. The Giants running back Tiki Barber spoke to the group via videotape and commended the teens for their work.

Following the speakers, the teens moved into break-out sessions, where they developed concepts and key messages for posters and 30-second video spots to be used in the "Spare the Air" campaign. The winners will work with professional designers and producers to fashion their ideas into finished products. The video will air on Channel One, an in-school broadcast network that reaches approximately 215,000 New Jersey students.

The Summit also recognized the accomplishments of the previous year in its closing ceremonies, when REBEL high school seniors, Youth Advisory Board members and Youth Coordinators were presented with awards to mark outstanding achievements. Selected high school seniors were awarded scholarship dollars, while Youth Coordinators received money to fund additional services and events in their respective counties.

Environmental tobacco smoke kills more than 50,000 people each year in the United States. It has all the carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke, and is associated with low-birth-weight babies, sudden infant death syndrome, severe respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma, and cancer.

REBEL is just one of many initiatives sponsored by DHSS and funded with money from the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement (MSA) between 46 states and the tobacco industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently ranked New Jersey as 11th among the states in committing a substantial portion of MSA funds for tobacco control programs. 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.


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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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