June 14, 2001
I DECIDE TEENS FETED AT ROCKFORD BANQUET
ROCKFORD, IL - Teenagers who helped to design, develop and initiate the launch of the Winnebago County I Decide anti-tobacco program today were honored at a banquet by Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director.
"The success of this program is based in large part on the dedication and passion of the teens we are recognizing today," said Dr. Lumpkin. "They are the voices of this movement and, from what we've seen so far, the county and many of their peers are listening.
"The future health of their friends and the well-being of young people across the state were at stake when last year we asked these teens to lead this movement. The manner in which they have responded to this challenge has validated the trust we placed in their hands."
Each of the teens recognized is a member of the I Decide advisory panel that was first established last August to provide a youth perspective and leadership. The teens received a certificate of appreciation signed by Gov. George H. Ryan and Dr. Lumpkin.
Due to the success of the I Decide program, Dr. Lumpkin announced that Gov. Ryan and the Illinois General Assembly approved additional funds in the fiscal year 2002 state budget, which begins July 1, that will allow the program to continue for another year in Winnebago County and to expand to other areas of the state.
The advisory panel's first assignment was to help organize a summit for 230 Winnebago County teens at the Rockford MetroCentre. The panel members led two days of discussions that helped to lay the foundation for the I Decide movement. After the summit, the advisory panel was expanded and organized into six groups advertising, advocacy, branding, newsletter, special events/media relations and Web design.
Through the efforts of the advisory panel and other I Decide members from throughout the county, in less than a year, the teens have helped to create a radio, television, mass transit and billboard advertising campaign; established a Web site www.idecide4me.com; wrote and distributed thousands of newsletters; advocated for smoke-free restaurants and other public places; participated in events to spread the word about the effort; and hosted educational presentations for 1,800 sstudents. About 1,500 teens from Winnebago County have registered as members of I Decide and receive regular mailings and information about the movement.
The $3.85 million I Decide campaign was funded during the past year by Illinois' share of the 1998 court settlement with the nation's tobacco companies.
Winnebago County was chosen for the anti-tobacco initiative because of the county's racial mix; the contained media market, which includes all four major television networks; and the enthusiasm and willingness of the Winnebago County Health Department, and of the county's school and elected officials to participate.
Dr. Lumpkin said I Decide is designed to provide teens with the tools they deem necessary to resist the social influences to smoke and to prevent what can easily become an addiction.
It is estimated that more than 60,000 Illinois teenagers take up smoking each year. A third of those young people are destined to become regular smokers who will eventually die as a result of their smoking. Tobacco use is responsible for more than 20,000 deaths each year in Illinois, or one in every five deaths, and is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the nation. Smoking can cause chronic lung disease, coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as cancer of the lung, larynx, esophagus, mouth and bladder.
More than one-third (34 percent) of Illinois high school students in grades nine through 12 reported that they had smoked a cigarette in the previous 30 days, according to the most recent state survey data (1999, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Survey). Nationally, 34.8 percent of high school students said they smoked a cigarette in the past month.
of Public Health
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