#Escapethevape, local students fight against tobacco

Published 10:12 am Monday, April 3, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Falana McDaniel is taking the fight to tobacco as the director of Copiah and Lincoln Counties Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition and National Council on Alcoholism and drug dependence. She has had a busy week this past week speaking on SuperTalk MS Thursday morning about the coalition and hosting an event with local high schoolers this past  weekend. 

Saturday was Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action. It is a nationwide movement to stand up and speak against the tobacco industry. Youth advocates held events nationwide and about 30 local students from Hazlehurst, Crystal Springs, Loyd Star, Brookhaven and West Lincoln joined in. 

Local students in Upward Bound programs met at Smith Hall on Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus Saturday morning at 9:45. They learned about the dangers of vaping and tobacco use before working on posters and selfie boards. 

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Hazlehurst junior Keary Williams had the biggest personality and most energy in the classroom Saturday. He said his teacher told him he should join Upward Bound because it would help his applications for college. 

“I took her advice and I love every second of it. It is amazing and today was a great day. I learned about vaping and it isn’t a good thing to do. I’ll keep spreading the word,” Williams said. “I know adults who vape and smoke but not kids yet. I will try to do my part.” 

Students will take their posters and hang them in their schools or other public spaces to spread information about why tobacco is harmful. The phrase “Nicotine is addictive,” was repeated in presentations on their boards. 

According to the Mississippi Department of Health, one in five high school students vape or use e-cigarettes. Mississippi Tobacco data shows 6.5 percent of high school students smoke traditional cigarettes while 21.3 smoke e-cigarettes. 

Vapes can contain nicotine, cancer causing chemicals and metals. McDaniel and the students worked Saturday to hopefully educate others on the dangers of vaping. They were also working to inform the kids already vaping on how they could “Escape the Vape.” All a person wanting to quit has to do is text VAPEFREEMS to 88709. 

Williams said he knows vaping occurs at his school and teens will try to peer pressure others into vaping. His education from watching movies and documentaries about tobacco use and cancer is why he is so passionate about fighting tobacco. He has also done research on tobacco in his spare time. 

“I don’t want it to get anybody. It isn’t good. People might try to peer pressure you but I say I don’t want any part,” Williams said. “There is a better look in life than smoking. For anyone out there smoking and vaping, know there is better in life. There is always a better alternative. It isn’t good. It might be something else you want to do. If you pick something else up in life maybe it will go better for you.”