Youth Leadership Council teens, ranging in age from freshmen to seniors, created and implemented tobacco prevention activities and education for the Tobacco Prevention room at the 2013 Teen Maze.
Teen Maze youth participants first entered the room where they were greeted by a (fake) smoke-shrouded youth tempting them to have a smoke. Then they moved to a table which held a giant cigarette and a giant chew tobacco can. Here the participants reached inside one or the other to pull out such items as rat poison, batteries and fiberglass, all of which are ingredients in both tobacco products. After emptying each container and learning of the not-so-friendly ingredients and additives that are in tobacco products the participants then got to test their understanding of the health risks of tobacco use. Some jumped rope while trying to breathe through a straw to demonstrate the issues of exercise and smoking. Others were given a demonstration on how hard it is to break the habit by trying to break one piece of thread wrapped around their hand, then five pieces of thread, then 12 pieces, twelve representing a pack. Each time it gets harder to quit.
Finally the participants moved to a table which held samples and information on new smokeless and spitless tobacco products and were showed examples of how big Tobacco companies intentionally target young people to become early users by using enticing packaging similar to candies as well as sugary flavorings. Here the participants answered questions on how they may avoid getting drawn into the sticky temptations of tobacco and were given resources of where to turn if they do, or someone they know does.
The Teen Maze was a 2 day event held on May 7th and 8th with 300 participants from 7 regional middle schools.