Raising Awareness About Tobacco

Kaylie at the Say What! Texas Tobacco-Free Conference
Kaylie at the Say What! Texas Tobacco-Free Conference

Kaylie at a recent conference in Montgomery, Texas, that encouraged kids to stay tobacco-free

According to health officials, an estimated 1 billion people around the world smoke. Each year, roughly 5 million die from tobacco-related illnesses. That translates to about one person every six seconds.

Most kids learn about the dangers of tobacco at a young age. Kaylie Lynch, a rising seventh-grader from Whitney Point, New York, decided to take her knowledge one step further.

“I wanted people to really think about what tobacco is doing, and what it could do to you,” Kaylie said in a recent phone interview. “The fact that people are dying and we can prevent that is just shocking to me. It’s important for kids to know early on about the effects of tobacco, so that we can spread the word and inform others.”



This year, Scholastic Inc. sponsored a “Stay Smart About Tobacco” poster contest, with support from the CVS Health Foundation and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Sixth- and seventh-graders around the country were invited to create an original poster to raise awareness about tobacco's harmful effects.

Kaylie's entry features a list of the negative effects of smoking. “I made my poster very informational,” she explained. “I wanted to get the message out in a way that people would really understand.”

Kaylie's poster for the Stay Smart About Tobacco Poster Contest

Kaylie's award-winning entry in the “Stay Smart About Tobacco” poster contest


Kaylie’s poster won first prize. “I wasn’t really expecting to win,” she said. "It kind of came as a shock.” As the grand prize winner, she won a trip to “Say What!,” a youth conference in Montgomery, Texas, that focused on preventing tobacco use. The conference, which began on July 17, offered interactive workshops for students from around the state.

“Participating was a great experience,” Kaylie said. “It was very inspiring, and it made me want to start making a difference in my community.

Kaylie is glad that she was able to express her views through art. “I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember,” she said. “Art is a good way to get a lot of powerful messages across. You can say a lot with pictures.”


Photos courtesy of the author