MSDH Hosts Tobacco Conference For Teens - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

MSDH Hosts Tobacco Conference For Teens

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The group generation FREE presented the LEAD Conference, which stands for leadership, engagement and activism development.

It is one of four conferences taking place in the state for 9th through 12th grade students.

"The main premace of the conference is to get the youth excited and to hopefully go back into their local communities with grass-roots efforts hoping to elicit change to make their local communities a healthier place to live," MSDH Special Projects Officer for Youth Programs in the Office of Tobacco Control Brad Martin.

He said they hope to counter-act what teens are learning from advertisers.

"Youth are the future of our country, and obviously the tobacco industry knows that some of the youth are replacement tobacco users of the future, so we hope to decrease some of the usage rates with youth," Martin said.

Newton County 10th grader Summer Culpepper said this conference has opened her eyes.

"I knew a lot of people smoked, but I realized that there are so many teenagers that do," Culpepper said.

Generation FREE member and Bassfield High School Senior Alicia Thompson said she wants to help other people her age and enjoyed connecting with the teens today.

"Their first excuse is no one understands, but we're all going through the same stuff," Martin said.

She said she knows she can't make a decision for anyone but herself.

"I just try to educate them as much as I can, but I just try to help them make the right decision.

Kimyung Kim was the motivational speaker at the conference.

"I was talking to the kids about going after dreams, living up to their potential and talking to them about tobacco use and how it can actually affect their lives and be a negative detriment to who they can become," Kim said.

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