SPRINGFIELD TWP.  The Summit County Health Department, in conjunction with Springfield High School and Junior High, held a day to advocate against tobacco use.

The program is made possible through the Local Tobacco Grant. Jessie Wingert, Springfield Schools' public health specialist and community health educator, said some of the goals of the grant include assessing community compliance with tobacco sales to youth, have tobacco-free schools and college campuses, a greater protection of community members from second-hand smoke, an increased adoption of tobacco-free policies in outdoor spaces and an increased compliance with established tobacco- and smoke-free policies or laws in the community.

Wingert collaborated with the media teachers at the school on the campaign.

Springfield has been identified as having one of the highest smoking rates in Summit County and through this collaboration, the program is looking to decrease the amount of tobacco advertising and promotion that reaches youth each day. The program is designed to increase awareness to students about the health and financial problems the use of tobacco can create.

"There aren't many campaigns in Springfield," said 7th-grader Ellie Gardinier. "We need this."

 Springfield High School media teacher Amy Hartman helped coordinate the event. She said students signed pledges, handed out anti-tobacco t-shirts and showcased projects.

"We are working to create stand teams across Ohio for students ages 13 to 19 to prevent tobacco use as well as educate about the dangers of tobacco use," Hartmand said.  

Students made raps, artwork, posters, movies, brochures and comics showcasing tobacco facts and messages. They also created videos which were shown each day on the morning announcements. 

"This was a great opportunity for our students and administration to work together for a cause. The students were great coming up with creative ideas to get their message across to the school," said Hartman. 

"I enjoyed the projects because these projects potentially helped somebody out there," added Senior David Conrad.

Sophomore Odin Amador-Gorby added, "I had a great time creating a movie trailer with my group. Everyone in the group participated in roles such as acting, directing, organizing, editing, brain storming, and Dr. Hartman helped us with the technological issues. We all know the issues of tobacco in our society and we want to find a way to help out with this Stand project."

A group of students also created a smoking survey that students completed. During the students' lunch time, they were able to sign a pledge which stated they "say no" to tobacco products.

More than 400 students signed the pledge that read:

- Because I know smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States

- Because I know that smoking kills more people every year than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, fires, drugs, murders, and suicides combined

- Because I know the Tobacco Industry spends over 6 million dollars a year or $200 a second, on advertising to get me to start smoking

- Because I know 90 percent of smokers begin before 18 years of age

I do hereby pledge that I will lead a smoke-free life and pledge not to use tobacco products.

 "People don't realize just how bad tobacco is," said 8th-grader Andrew Bond.

 "This project helped us learn about the health concerns with tobacco and what to do about it," said Springfield High School senior Corey Ullom. "We also had the opportunity to get to know the Health Department."

Teachers will continue to share tobacco information with students keeping them updated on current statistics and trends.

Tina Hartong, a 7th-grade language arts and junior high media teacher, said the program was a huge success.

"The junior high media students involved were very excited," she said. "They spent a few days designing the t-shirts for this year as well as creating a Snap Chat filter."

"It was cool to see how all of the kids did the pledge and wore our shirts," said 7th-grader Erin Stubbs.

Hartong said the students also spent time researching tobacco issues with young students as well as interviewing their peers about tobacco.

"They passed on critical information to the junior high regarding the negative effects tobacco use can have on their generation," she said.

"The campaign really helps people realize how bad smoking is," 7th-grader Olivia Martin said. "I think some people just brush it off and don't really think about what they are doing."

"It was great to see the students' creativity with these projects," Hartman said. " Also, I am glad that these projects opened up the students' eyes and others about the dangers of tobacco."