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Teens Warn Other Teens About the Dangers of Tobacco

Teens Warn Other Teens About the Dangers of Tobacco
M. D. Anderson News Release 5/08/02

Researchers, physicians, and educators from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have teamed up with students and teachers at Hightower High School in Fort Bend Independent School District to educate teens about the dangers of tobacco. 

The students from Hightower wrote, produced, and acted in five television public service announcements (PSAs). The PSAs focus on various aspects of smoking and tobacco presented to them during programs taught by M. D. Anderson experts. 

The project was coordinated by M. D. Anderson's Public Education Office, which develops partnerships, such as this one with Hightower, to increase the public's awareness and understanding of cancer. The institution's goal to eliminate tobacco use was the motivator for this collaboration.

"Statistics show that each day more than 5,000 kids try their first cigarette," says Dr. Garrett Walsh, professor of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at M. D. Anderson. "It is our job as health professionals to educate the public, especially children and teenagers, about the harmful effects tobacco can have on the body." 

The students involved in this partnership are a part of Hightower's Broadcasting Academy - a program designed to teach students about video production and/or broadcasting, and involve them in the industry, while still in high school. 

"When M. D. Anderson approached us about this collaboration, I thought it would be a great opportunity for the students to utilize their skills in production and writing while learning about something as important as smoking and tobacco risks," says Jeanette Shumway, coordinator of the Broadcasting Academy. 

The students chose the topics for the PSAs - cigarette ingredients, costs of smoking, smoking and pregnancy, and the physical effects of smoking and tobacco chewing. They felt these were topics that would best convey the "don't smoke" message to their peers. 

"Some of the aspects of smoking that the students picked up on during the programs surprised me," says Shumway. "I think that's what will make these PSAs effective - teenagers know how to target their peers."

During the writing and production of the PSAs, M. D. Anderson staff visited Hightower on a regular basis to teach the students about the harmful effects of smoking, and to consult with them during the production process.

"It was great to be able to see the students working so enthusiastically on this project," says David Valentine, educational specialist in the public education office at M. D. Anderson and a former teacher. "I got to see how committed and talented they are and it's very clear in the PSAs how hard they worked."  

The production facility at Hightower includes serial digital interface equipment, a studio and control room, as well as an anchor set. The students have worked on past projects such as news footage and music videos - many for businesses and organizations in their community.

"Hightower is very lucky to have resources like this to teach the students some real world applications while they're still in high school," says Ted Irving, instructor in the Broadcasting Academy at Hightower. "Many of the students involved in the PSAs are graduating this year and they will certainly leave behind a legacy of outstanding work through this partnership."


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center