A Hummel Report Investigation
Fewer than 15 percent of adults in the United States smoke. But the pressure among young people to take up the habit remains strong - which is why the CVS Health Foundation has teamed up with a global book publishing company to design an anti-smoking curriculum for students as young as third grade. This month Jim Hummel profiles a school in Pawtucket, where the message is getting through - loudly and clearly.
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Walters: ``Why would those thing be effective at getting you to pick up cigarettes?’’
If you think you’ve heard everything about the dangers of smoking, just sit in on Jessica Walters’ class for half an hour - and you might be surprised.
Walters, who teachers 6th grade at the Woodlawn Regional Catholic School in Pawtucket, is using a new nationwide program called ``Get Smart About Tobacco’’ - developed by Scholastic, the global publishing company, in partnership with the CVS Health Foundation right here in Rhode Island.
Walters: ``I’ll take anything that gets kids to stay away from cigarettes.’’
Walters, who has taught at Woodlawn the past seven years, said the curriculum - which included an art project - taught her some things she didn’t know before about smoking.
Walters: ``They really latched into the other science behind it: the second-hand and third-hand smoking. Which was new information for me. I had never heard about third-hand smoking. And at first I didn’t quite believe it, but then I did my own research and it’s a problem, it’s that lingering cigarette smoke, the lingering chemicals in the air. in fibers, can cause major problems.’’
Procopio: ``I see safety, and non-smoking and health and nutrition, all of those things that come to me I pass on to the teachers, because they’re all critically important to our children.’’
Veronica Procopio, the principal at Woodlawn, heard about the program in an email from Scholastic, and was intrigued that the CVS Foundation was helping support it, especially since the company made national news two years ago for pulling all tobacco products from its stores.
Hummel: ``So when you heard CVS what did you think?’’
Procopio: ``That this was something that we needed to be involved in locally. I’m an inner-city school, I knew what the non-smoking policy was at CVS and how staunchly they backed the no smoking policy and it seemed to speak to me. And so that’s why I passed it along to the teachers to get involved with the students.’’
This past spring the students learned about everything from the science of smoking to slick advertising campaigns by tobacco companies - and Walters told them about the physical effects of being a smoker.