Magazine article Dance Teacher

Trashing the Ash

Magazine article Dance Teacher

Trashing the Ash

Article excerpt

Help students quit smoking.

Today's young people are more aware of the health risks of smoking than any other previous generation, yet 6.4 million of them are expected to die from smoking-related diseases, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research shows that nearly all first-time tobacco use occurs before high school graduation, which suggests that, if young people can get past this stage in their lives and remain tobacco-free, they are likely to never start smoking.

Young dance students are particularly susceptible to the appeals of smoking. Many dancers smoke in the mistaken belief that it will keep their weight down. Some believe their nicotine fix helps calm pre-performance nerves, and then there is the "cool" aspect of smoking to contend with. "Smoking has been a part of the dance world for such a long time," says Professor Karen Clippinger from California State University's Dance Department. "The desire to emulate successful dancers who smoke and be part of the 'in group' is a contributing factor." How then can dance educators help to steer their students away from experimenting with smoking?

* Recognize students who smoke by looking for those with a long-term cough or a constant need to clear their throat, or those who get tired most quickly in class. Let them know that you're on to them. Geoffrey Doig-Marx, associate professor of dance at Montclair State University-stands behind smokers in warm-up and mentions that he can smell it. "I would never draw attention to them or ridicule them," he says. "Open and honest conversation is best. If you are ever concerned about a student smoking, always pull them aside to talk to them."

* Encourage students to think long term. The unhealthy "satisfaction" that accompanies a cigarette lasts only minutes, while the real damage being done to their body will hit them much later in life. "Smoking is more than a bad habit. …

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