A program that is making a difference in tobacco use among young people, especially in central Alberta, made a tour stop last week in Ponoka.
The Grade 6 students at Ponoka Elementary School saw the Butt Ugly presentation Oct. 17, which includes a short drama focused on what tobacco can do to the body and the myths about its use.
A total of 22 students from the four Red Deer high schools, split into two groups, help generate and then perform the drama, which is followed by some peer-to-peer mentoring from the high school students.
“The drama deals with how to develop the refusal skills and demonstrates some of the lies still out there about tobacco use,” explained tour manager Kate Adams.
“All of the students are really engaged and the kids are used to talking about tough subjects these days, so they are mostly willing participants when it comes to getting together for a chat after the drama.”
Butt Ugly has been providing its anti-tobacco program since 1995 and, along with the legislative changes in Alberta several years ago, has helped in declining teen smoking numbers.
“It’s been going down especially since tobacco cannot be seen now or is not as accessible to young people,” she said.
“However, despite it being a really good program, I don’t think as a society we talk enough about these more common things. We talk about things like drug use and bullying, but I think its important for us to focus on tobacco too.”
One change to the presentation that was made a couple of years ago that is resonating more with students is the use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping.
“Vaping was introduced recently and the drama is always being updated when new information comes out,” Adams said.
For more information, head to www.buttugly.ca.