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Tobacco and ESD education for Red Ribbon Week

On November 3, Kaua‘i High School’s leadership class put together a lunchtime activity on campus to acknowledge National Red Ribbon Week: Your Future is Key, So Stay Drug Free. The students in this leadership class invited community organizations to participate in this lunchtime event open to all students grades 9 through 12.

A few days prior to the event, the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH) met with the students of the leadership class about the dangers and consequences of tobacco and electronic smoking devices (ESDs). Throughout the presentation, students said they were eager to share with their peers the new ESD and tobacco facts that they just learned. The students also mentioned the many myths about tobacco and ESDs that they would like to bust. From this discussion, the game “Bust a Myth” was created.

On the day of the event, info sheets with tobacco and ESD facts were posted around the CTFH booth for students to read. Valerie Saiki, the Kaua‘i Coalition Coordinator, answered questions the students had about tobacco or ESDs to educate students prior to participating in the game.

Two leadership students conducted the Bust a Myth game. Participating students played in groups of seven, selecting one un-inflated balloon with a statement printed on a paper stuffed inside. The goal was to blow up the balloon as fast as possible, sit on the balloon to pop it, then find the statement paper, read the statement out loud and answer with “fact” or “myth”. The first three to answer correctly won prizes like sunglasses or a t-shirt. All participants were given a choice of an ESD-free sticker or an ESD-free pencil. Some statements from the game were:

• ESDs contain chemicals known to cause cancer [fact].
• Cigarettes may contain added chemicals such as whale vomit (ambergris) and dog urine (urea) [fact].
• Nicotine is not addictive [myth].
• ESDs are addictive [fact].

An estimated 100 students directly participated in the Bust a Myth game, with more waiting and unable to participate when the bell rang to end recess.

Some students questioning the presented facts, which helped create some in-depth discussions among students and staff. Students walked away having learned the truth about tobacco and ESDs and the coordinator learned different perspectives and misconceptions of the students.

Since September, more than 600 youth on Kaua‘i have been educated on tobacco and ESDs, meeting one of the Kaua‘i coalition’s priorities for 2018: to increase tobacco and ESD education among youth.