FULTON, NY – If vanity will prevent local students from smoking, staff members from Oswego Health are ready to demonstrate some ugly facts.
Oswego Health’s Susan Callaway and Rachel Baglia, both registered nurses and community health educators, showed seventh graders at the Fulton Junior High School firsthand how smoking could change their appearance, if they smoked into their 60s.
The nurse educators first discussed the dangers of smoking cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
They also shared advertising tactics used by tobacco companies to encourage youths to smoke and discussed the cost of cigarettes, which at about $10 a pack, could add up to $3,000 over the course of a year.
But it was special age-progression software that sent the students the biggest message.
Using the age-progression software on loan from the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, a picture was taken of a student in each class.
On a computer screen the students were shown how their classmate would look if he/she smoked to age 65.
When the students were shown how unattractive their fellow student would look if he/she smoked until their mid-60s, most were quite surprised.
This is the second year that Oswego Health’s nurse educators have visited the seventh grade health classrooms of Dan Stadtmiller and Dan Gilmore.
“When our students walk out into the real world, they tend to forget the dangers of smoking and this helps them have a lasting impression,” said Stadtmiller.
He added that last year’s program was very well received by the students.
“I can pull any of our eighth graders from the hallway today and they will say they remember this program from last year,” Stadtmiller said.
He also shared that the smoking cessation program was the student’s favorite outside presentation last year.
“They remembered it and it stuck with them and I think that’s the most important thing,” he said.
Fellow science teacher Gilmore agreed.
“In class, we can talk about how smoking changes a person’s appearance all day, but when they see their own face or their classmate’s picture on the computer screen it really sinks in. The presentation takes what they already know about tobacco products and takes their understanding of the dangers to the next level. It’s an excellent presentation,” he said.
The nurse educators are expected to provide similar programs later this year to junior-high age students in both the Hannibal and Oswego City school districts.