Surveys have shown many smokers try their first cigarette in middle school. 13 percent of high schoolers smoke in the Commonwealth. (Photo: AP)
CHESTERFIELD (WRIC) - Students at Providence Middle School are taking a stand against tobacco by participating in this year's national Kick Butts Day.
Kick Butts Day is a nationwide effort where kids use their voices to raise awareness about the dangers of regular tobacco use. Kick Butts Day is sponsored by United Health Foundation.
Jordyn Ferguson and Messiah Shabazz have a big message to get out to their classmates.
"My concept is to emphasize the effects of smoking and second hand smoke," Ferguson says.
These eighth graders are working with Chesterfield's Cooperative Extension to produce video public service announcements.
"I want to tell them that they shouldn't smoke because it could really affect their lives, especially at a young age," Shabazz says.
Surveys have shown many smokers try their first cigarette in middle school. 13 percent of high schoolers smoke in the Commonwealth.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, about 150,000 kids under 18 living in Virginia will ultimately die smoking-related deaths.
"Some boys want to play sports and it's kind of hard to play football or basketball if you're having problems breathing and some girls want to do singing or play an instrument and that requires a lot of breathing," Ferguson says.
Virginia currently has the lowest cigarette tax -- 30 cents.
One recent report also shows tobacco companies spend $323.3 million on marketing efforts across the state.
But now these kids are arming themselves with information to fight back.
"It is our hope that through their public service announcements that they're working on that they can inspire other students in Chesterfield County to remain tobacco free," says Jennifer Farrow of Chesterfield Cooperative Extension 4-H Program.
Next week the providence middle schoolers will record their PSAs and then they go on to compete in a video competition at the Science Museum of Virginia.