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Teen smoke-free meeting tonight

Maggie O'Neill

I stopped smoking Dec. 31, 2002, and have never looked back. I decided it was time to stop trashing my body and start cherishing it. Quitting is a hard thing to do, but the change in attitude has ramifications far beyond cigarettes.

Now many states are mandating smoke-free workplaces.

I’m on the listserv for a Web site at the domain http://www.smoke-free.net. I frequently receive e-mails from the site about the state of smoke-free workplace legislation in the United States.

While my home state of Maryland has not passed such smoke-free workplace legislation, the trend is growing and nearby Washington, D.C., has done so.

Many of the states to pass such legislation are are along the Eastern seaboard: Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey, for example. Other states in the West like California, Montana and Washington, have also passed smoke-free legislation.

I am just twiddling my thumbs wondering when Nevada will be on that list and whether it will really be one of the last to budge.

Someone told me recently they think so, but there are so many wonderful groups – spearheaded by students in the area school districts – that I think will will make better choices as adults about what they put into their bodies. And in the next couple of years, they will be the ones to insist that such smoke-free workplace legislation takes effect in Nevada.

Consider these active groups: RESIST in the Carson City School District, TATU (Teens Against Tobacco Usage) in the Douglas County School District and YETI (yes, YETI … Youth Educating about Tobacco Issues) in the Storey and Lyon County school districts.

In fact, both chapters of YETI, which include middle school and high school students, are meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Round Table pizza in Dayton. New members are welcome, but all are asked to bring $5 to cover the cost of pizza. Anyone seeking more information can call Sylvia Thomas at 884-4671.

I just received an alert from the Web site that stated that 2005 had the largest drop in number of cigarettes sold in the past 55 years – a 4.2 percent drop from the previous year.

But that doesn’t change the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that indicates that 440,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other diseases.

To be put on the listserv for http://www.smoke-free.net, just go to the Web site. You can also send letters to your state representatives from this site about supporting smoke-free workplace legislation. I believe we will see Nevada on the list of states that have such legislation in the near future. It may not be next year, but with the future generations of students coming to adulthood, it will happen.

code-red drills

I spoke with Dr. Mary Pierczynski of the Carson city School District recently about the code-red drills done in schools. The drills are designed to prepare for incidents like the shooting at Pine Middle School in Reno last week.

She told me that every school in the Carson district has a safety team that decides what drills should be practiced by staff and students – those are drills in addition to the requisite fire drill performed monthly at schools.

She said the main difference between how the Washoe County School District and the Carson school district would respond to an emergency is this – the Carson school district would not send students home early like Pine Middle School did in the case of emergency.

Each Carson City school has an alternate site to take students to – Eagle Valley Middle School evacuates to the gym at Carson High School, for example.

The reason for this response is that it’s the only way to ensure that students have adult supervision until regular release time.

Sounds like a good code-red plan.

• Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.