Local students learn to say NO to tobacco

Mar 18, 2017
Arron Hughes, a respiratory specialist at Waldo County General Hospital, demonstrates how healthy lungs work using a pig lung at the “Good Habits, Good Health” tobacco awareness event for elementary school students March 8.

Belfast — Approximately 160 local fourth graders from Cornerspring Montesorri School, Edna Drinkwater School, and Regional School Units 20 and 71 learned how to say “no” to tobacco at the annual “Good Habits, Good Health” tobacco awareness event at the First Church in Belfast March 8 and 9.

Now in its seventh year, the event is a collaboration among Waldo County General Hospital, local schools and community members that aims to empower students to make healthy choices around smoking and tobacco use.

“We want kids to walk away knowing what addiction is and how they can protect themselves,” said Linda Hartkopf, 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! and child health coordinator for Waldo County. “We are helping them find skills to make good choices when the time comes.”

Each student participated in a full day of presentations and activities that covered such topics as the health effects of tobacco, addiction, second- and third-hand smoke, alternative tobacco products and the role of marketing in the tobacco industry. They also learned a song about saying no to tobacco, practiced role-playing and met with teen smokers who shared their experiences with addiction and how it has affected their lives.

“We want them to have an understanding about the dangers of tobacco,” Hartkopf said. “It’s important for kids to know that not everyone smokes and that they have choices.”

The event was made possible by donations and support from RSU 20, RSU 71, Edna Drinkwater School, Cornerspring Montessori School, Hannaford, Granite Coast Orthodontics, addiction counselors Ruth Johnson and Jeff Wilber, the American Lung Association, Troy Howard Middle School food services, WCGH nutrition services, WCGH respiratory therapy and the community health and wellness team from Pen Bay Medical Center and WCGH.


WCGH respiratory specialist Arron Hughes points out the dangerous chemicals found in second and third-hand smoke during her presentation at the “Good Habits, Good Health” tobacco awareness event March 8.
Each student received one of these charms at each station to remind them of lessons learned during the “Good Habits, Good Health” tobacco awareness event March 8 and 9.
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