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Partnership for a Drug-Free Community nixes ‘big tobacco’s’ tactics

MADISON – Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, a local agency, is exploring the tobacco industry’s long history of targeting teenagers. Partnership has produced a traveling exhibit, “Airing Out Big Tobacco’s Dirty Laundry,” that showcases what the industry really thinks about its potential customers.

“Health advocacy organizations like Partnership must be creative to combat multinational corporations and their slick ad campaigns that ignore the risks associated with smoking and vaping. Decades of quotes from industry executives prove it,” Ann Marie Martin said. Martin serves as Partnership’s Program Manager for Youth Tobacco and Vaping Prevention.

“We hope this exhibit will give youth and adults a lot to think about when they see how dismissive tobacco companies have been about their customers’ welfare,” Martin said.

Three members of Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Leaders or TYTL, which is Partnership’s youth advocate group, painted T-shirts, boxer shorts, socks and posters with quotes that reveal how tobacco companies have targeted teens with sweet flavors and marketing campaigns to turn teens into lifelong customers, Martin said. The exhibit also includes facts about the dangers of smoking and vaping, plus stories about tobacco products destroying the health of real people.

Josiah Smitherman, who attends Huntsville High School, is a three-year TYTL member. First-year members are Kate Bowman, Life Christian Academy, and Pierre Carter, Liberty Middle School in Madison. Partnership staff members Wendy Reeves, Ann Light, Ann Marie Martin, Jacqueline Carter, Anna Thibodeaux and Ariel Matthews. Intern Cherubim Jephunneh also contributed to the project.

Partnership kicked off the exhibit on April 1, which is Take-Down Tobacco National Day of Action. Since then, three display racks have been traveling to schools in the Huntsville City Schools, Madison City Schools and Madison County Schools systems. Now that school is out, the displays will be on view this summer at various branches of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, Martin said.

The Partnership website offers more details about the various components of the exhibit. Visit partnershipforadrug-freecommunity.org/airing-out-big-tobaccos-dirty-laundry.html for facts about these topics:

* Tobacco company quotes used in the exhibit plus a few others.

* Information on the guilty parties (that is, tobacco companies) behind the quotes.

* Why the addictive drug nicotine is so dangerous.

* What’s really in that vape cloud? (Hint: It’s not water vapor.)

* Personal stories of people harmed by tobacco.

Partnership for a Drug-Free Community’s office address is 2201 Clinton Ave. W. in Huntsville. For more information, visit partnershipforadrug-freecommunity.org or Facebook/thepdfc.

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