Deanna Durrett: The Campaign for Tobacco Free

By Thompson, Catherine; Bahara, Sabrina | Social Studies Review, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Deanna Durrett: The Campaign for Tobacco Free


Thompson, Catherine, Bahara, Sabrina, Social Studies Review


Cigarettes kill more than 400,000 Americans every year - that means more deaths than from AIDS , alcohol, care accidents, murders, suicides, drugs and fires, combined. 668341 children became regular smokers in 2008 (http://www.tobaccofreekids.org, 2009).

Many children are becoming victims of propaganda and the easy accessibility to cigarettes and eventually, the devastating consequences of smoking. The purpose of this article is to inform teachers about how they can use the story of a young person who has effectively campaigned against smoking to show children a healthy role model and discourage them from smoking. In spite of years of public campaigns against smoking , twenty-one percent of adults smoke. Statistics reveal that an alarming number of people became smokers before graduating from high school. Almost 90% of adults who smoke started before they were 1 8 years old , (Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids , 2005). Presently, 15% of students in the tenth grade and 9% of students in die eighdi grade smoke cigarettes, so this is a prevalent and serious health issue among the children and young people in our schools. It is important to teach and learn about this problem in a way that is relevant to students' lives.

Deanna Durrett: Advocate for Tobacco Legislation

Deanna Durrett is a dynamic example of a student who became informed and politically active. She has been determined to make a difference in the lives of many people. Deanna has been a strong and courageous advocate with the important goal of educating others about tobacco and influencing tobacco legislation. In 1998, when Deanna was sixteen years old, she won the 1998 South Regional Youth Advocates of the Year Award from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. She went on to campaign for stronger tobacco control policies by testifying before the Kentucky House of Representatives' Health and Welfare Committee. As a volunteer for the Alliance to Control Tobacco in Our Neighborhoods, Deanna took her message to the White House, helping to organize a rally with one thousand other young people to call for comprehensive national tobacco legislation. She works with the Alcohol Beverage Control Board to conduct undercover "sting operations" on local stores and vending machines selling cigarettes. The fact that she was always able to buy cigarettes from vending machines led several restaurants to remove me machines and led Deanna Durrett to campaign for a national ban on cigarette vending machines (Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids , 2005) . In 2003 , Deanna received the prestigious Truman Scholarship while studying at Saint Louis University. In her application, she focused on ways to reduce the high smoking rate in Kentucky. This grant provided Deanna with $30,000 to continue graduate or professional studies in preparation for a career in public service. Deanna is determined to continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

History-Social Science Standards

The history and consequences of smoking can be examined within the History-Social Science Standards K.6; 1.2.4; 1.4.3; 1.5; 1.6; 2.4.2; 2.5; 3.2.4; 3.3.2; 3.5; 5.3 .2; 5.4 .6; 7.1 1.2; 7.1 1.3; 8.7; 8.12; 10.3; 112; 11.11; and 12.2. However it is such an important topic that it should be included in all grade levels. In Grade 5, smoking can be studied in relationship to Life Science Standards 2. a-g; Physical Education, Standard Three; and Health Standards: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs.

Tobacco was grown and smoked by Native Americans before it was introduced to Europeans soon after the arrival of Columbus . The cultivation, export, sales, marketing, and consumption of tobacco have been a significant part of the history and economy of the United States. Tobacco is linked to slavery, Native Americans, trade, commerce, business, taxation, employment, education, politics, health care, disease, worker productivity, health insurance,the judicial system, global economics, and the environment.

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