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Targeted by Big Tobacco, DL kids fight back

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news Perham, 56573

Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Students from the Detroit Lakes and Perham Boys and Girls Club are sending a strong message about the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics.

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During the summer “Tobacco Free 4-Health Youth Leadership Camp,” put on by PartnerSHIP 4-Health, students learned about these tactics, and put together a short video to raise public awareness.

They met with their families and the public Thursday afternoon at the Historic Holmes Theater to present the video, as well as report on some of the other projects they’ve been working on this summer.

The video, titled “Stop Targeting Us,” features each of the students holding signs which outlined some of the reasons why tobacco marketing needs to change.

Taglines like “I’m not going to be your replacement” and “Stop targeting us and teens around the world” highlighted the marketing practices the companies have used to interest kids in trying tobacco.

“We wanted to draw a little attention to what’s out there,” said program coordinator Keely Ihry.

Ihry led the students through the program, which educated them not only on the negative health effects of a nicotine habit, but exactly how kids their age are being influenced by big tobacco companies.

The students set up a table in the theater’s lobby which put tobacco products side by side with popular candy and novelty items to show the similarities.

“We also went on several store audits,” Ihry said. During these visits, the students were shown how ad placement in stores, oftentimes at children’s eye level, can influence young people to become tobacco users.

The event marked the end of the program, and the chance for each student to get up and communicate some of the lessons they’ve taken away from the program.

“We really want the kids to be able to share about what they’ve learned,” Ihry said.

And the sharing didn’t stop there.

The students also had the chance to let people know about some of the other projects they’ve been working on over the last three months.

One big effort the kids have made was the “Just Bleach It” campaign for the Humane Society of the Lakes animal shelter.

Through a bleach drive at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch thrift store in Detroit Lakes, they have collected 48 gallons of bleach. They learned about the need on a trip to the shelter and decided to take the time to help out, Ihry said.

The students have also raised $300 for the shelter though hot dog sales at the thrift store.

Other projects for the two groups included planting flowers around town, serving meals to seniors and hosting a bike rodeo.

“They’ve been very busy this summer doing things out the in community,” said Patrick Ptermann, executive director of the DL Boys and Girls Club.

“Our kids want to have fun in the summer,” he said, adding that the club aims to help kids have a good time while learning and participating in community service.

They got the chance to share details on all of these projects during Thursday’s event.

“They decided what projects they really wanted to highlight,” Ihry said.

Events for the day concluded with two $1,000 grants given to each of the Boys and Girls Club chapters. The money was given by PartnerSHIP 4-Health in recognition of all the work the students did to encourage healthy living in our community.

The “Stop Targeting Us” video campaign can be viewed online at www.bgcdl.org.

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