Habits form beginning with the very first steps we take. The influences that bombard us from family, to TV/Social Media, and peer pressures are substantial. We have to decide which habits are good, not so good, and pretty great! This is where Tar Wars comes into the picture. All Rush County Elementary Schools are participating in the Tar Wars program. Mrs. Laura Proctor (Registered Nurse, RESE and RESW) brought a no nonsense message to the fifth grade class concerning the use of tobacco products. She shared that approximately 2 percent of elementary students ages 11-12 use tobacco products. This increases to 7% by ages 13-14, and 23% by ages 15-18. Closely associated with these percentages is the fact that school attendance and grades decline as tobacco use increases.
Students learned that cigarettes are made of much more than just tobacco! Most cigarettes contain the addition of arsenic, acetone, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, lead, methanol, nicotine, and tar. It was cited that there are several short term and long term effects from tobacco use. Some short term effects included addiction, cough, bad breath, erosion of teeth, and associated stains/odor on clothing and household items. Long term effects include difficulty in breathing, cancer, heart disease, blood clots and a shortened life span.
Besides the health risks of tobacco use, the financial strain from tobacco use can be equally alarming. Assuming one pack of cigarettes cost $5.00 and you smoke a pack a day, the final cost would be $1,825.00 for one year. If you smoked one pack a day for 50 years, then $91,250 would be the amount needed to fund this habit.
At the end of the day, the decision to or not to smoke is an individual choice and all agreed that saying no can be hard. A new awareness of what happens to your body when you smoke as well as the financial implications is helping make that decision a whole lot clearer.
Marianne Scott is the Legacy Fund director/information officer with Rush County Schools.