SOS Asks Students to Write a Journal Entry About Tobacco’s Harmful Influence

The 2014 Stamp Out Smoking Essay Contest is underway.  This year’s contest theme, “My Journal:  How Tobacco Affects Me,“ was determined by members of the Arkansas Kids with the Tobacco Control Youth Board and the Youth Extinguishing Smoking Team.  Arkansas students in grades 2-9 are given the opportunity to submit an essay, written in the style of a journal entry, expressing their thoughts, experiences, or concerns about a family member, friend, or role model who uses tobacco.  The essay can be reflective or can address the tobacco user directly. In addition, students can create a journal entry for a peer or sibling, encouraging them to never start using tobacco.  The online contest requires students to submit their entries on sosessaycontest.com by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 28.

“The theme of this year’s contest highlights the damaging impact of tobacco, and the need for family members, role models, and peers to better understand how their decisions affect the youth around them,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, medical director of the Arkansas Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program.  “Each year, 3,200 Arkansas youth under the age of 18 become new daily smokers.  In addition, smokeless tobacco use among high school boys in Arkansas remains higher than the national rate.  It is our goal and the goal of this contest, to educate youth about the dangers of tobacco and how important it is to maintain a tobacco-free lifestyle.”

Winners will be announced by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 21, on sosessaycontest.com and on the Project Prevent Facebook page.  First-, second-, and third-place prizes will be awarded for each grade.  Each teacher of a first-place winner will receive a $300 gift card for classroom supplies.  All winning schools will receive a visit from the Youth Extinguishing Smoking Team (yesteam.org) for the opportunity to celebrate with a tobacco-free rally.

Essays submitted by grades 2-3 should be no fewer than 200 words and cannot exceed 450 words.  Essays submitted in all other categories must contain no fewer than 300 words and cannot exceed 750 words.

The “My Journal: How Tobacco Affects Me” Essay Contest is a tobacco prevention activity for the SOS campaign, the media and public education component of the Arkansas Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program. Students are encouraged to visit www.facebook.com/SOSProjectPrevent for the latest contest information and explore www.YESteam.org to learn more about how they can become tobacco control advocates. Parents and teachers can also learn about tobacco control, cessation, and advocacy by following SOS on www.facebook.com/stampoutsmoking. For more information on the Essay Contest, contact Pam Jones at pam.jones@cjrw.com or (501) 975-7224. For additional information on other tobacco prevention programs in your area, contact the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program office at (501) 661-2953.