|April 29, 2002
TEENS FROM SANGAMON AND MACON
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- "Tobacco Reality Live: TRL 2002," a one-day summit for teens from Sangamon and Macon counties, will be held on Saturday, May 4 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.
The summit is designed to empower teens to continue building the momentum of I Decide, the teen-led anti-tobacco movement sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health that began in the fall of 2000. At the event, teens will gain a better understanding of the tobacco industry, its deceptive marketing tactics and the health effects of using tobacco.
"We are pleased to see that, just over 18 months after creating and implementing I Decide, teens have garnered support from thousands of their peers and community groups," said Dr. John R. Lumpkin, state public health director. "These teenagers have been the driving force behind the campaign, which expanded into six other counties this year, including Sangamon and Macon."
At the summit, Cathy Black, a 25-year-old from Peoria, will share her personal story of losing both parents to tobacco-related cancer. Andy Berndt, a student at the University of Minnesota, will speak about various activism campaigns and the importance of getting involved in the anti-tobacco effort. Teens will attend interactive workshops on advocacy, tobacco industry advertising and other teen anti-tobacco campaigns and, at the I D Diary booth, they will be encouraged to share their candid feelings about tobacco issues on videotape.
In addition, the teens will be entertained by LA Rhythm Force, an extreme sports group that features stunt bikers, rollerbladers and break-dancers, and David and Jason from MTV's "The Real World," who will share their position on tobacco use and sign autographs.
"I Decide has made a difference," Dr. Lumpkin said. "According to a survey last spring, two-thirds of Winnebago County high school smokers have tried to quit since the campaign began. That's an increase of 33 percent."
The I Decide program is funded through the state's share of the Master Settlement Agreement, which was signed in 1998 by Illinois and 45 other states to settle the states' Medicaid lawsuits against tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related disease and treatment costs.
In 2000, a Teen Advisory Panel consisting of 60 middle and high school students from Sangamon and Macon counties was formed to provide guidance to the I Decide campaign. Panel members are involved with developing the campaign and program themes, recruitment, advertisements, advocacy programs and planning of the teen summit.
"Being a part of I Decide allows me to make a difference in people's lives," said Ashley Wheeler, Teen Advisory Panel member and a senior at Maroa-Forsyth High School. "Considering that 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 18, it's important that we continue building the anti-tobacco campaign and encourage our peers to not use tobacco products or, if they are smokers or users, to quit."
Each year, approximately 60,000 teens in Illinois take up smoking and, if trends continue, 260,000 teens will eventually die from smoking-related disease. Smoking has been identified as the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.
To learn more about I Decide, visit www.idecide4me.com or call toll-free 866-WE-DECIDE.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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