Students show tobacco effects with body bags – Knoxville News Sentinel

Alex Deangelis prepares to light a cigarette at Market Square while the Knoxville Youth Health Board stages an anti-smoking demonstration on Saturday, March 22, 2014. (Shawn Millsaps/Special to the News Sentinel)

Photo by Shawn Millsaps

Alex Deangelis prepares to light a cigarette at Market Square while the Knoxville Youth Health Board stages an anti-smoking demonstration on Saturday, March 22, 2014. (Shawn Millsaps/Special to the News Sentinel)

The Knox County Youth Health Board demonstrated the harmful effects of tobacco use on Saturday by lying down in body bags on Market Square to show the number of deaths smoking causes each day.

“It represents that every 77 seconds in the United States, someone dies from tobacco,” said Kathryn Burklund, Public Health education coordinator for Tobacco Use Prevention. “It’ll just be a quiet, sober impact.”

From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., one member from the Board lied down every 77 seconds. Tombstones were attached to the body bags and had statistics about second-hand smoke and tobacco-related illnesses and deaths.

“It helps spread the message that smoking is deadly,” said Nick Allen, a member of the Youth Health Board and senior at Farragut High School. “It’s really impacting a whole lot more because everywhere you go, you’ll see someone smoking.”

Both Allen and Katee Cole, another member of the Board and senior at South Doyle High School, said they volunteered for this demonstration to help the Knoxville community specifically.

“We all know that tobacco is bad for you, and through the health department, we’re trying to improve community health and make the community a healthier place; and if people are smoking, then it’s harder to reach that goal.” said Cole.

“I volunteered because I felt that it just helps spread messages about healthy living to everybody,” said Allen.

Several people gathered to watch the demonstration. Tom McClain, one of the spectators, said he was moved by it.

“It makes me think about friends of mine who smoke and my son who smokes,” said McClain. “I’m sure they all know that it’s not the right thing to do, but they’re stuck with the habit. I wish they’d get over it.”

This demonstration was a part of a larger event called ‘Kick Butts Day’ which occurred on March 19, Burklund said.

“(It) is a day for youth to get together and stand up and speak out about the impact that tobacco has on the U.S. every year, every day, every second,” said Burklund.

The Knox County Youth Health Board consists of two students from every high school in Knox County. It meets every month. While they are a part of the group, students participate and volunteer in community events to educate about public health.

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