December 17th, 2009
11:10 AM ET

How to win 'Tar Wars'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/11/art.smoking1.gi.jpg ]

Emily Kile
Special to CNN

I'm proud to say I live in a state that has taken tobacco control seriously, and gotten some serious results. Through hard work and constant effort, Indiana has cut our high school student smoking rates dramatically. Unfortunately, we still have the second-highest rate of adult smoking in the country.

Big Tobacco never takes a break, so neither should we.

I work in VOICE, Indiana's youth-led movement to curb smoking by teenagers and combat the tobacco industry's marketing messages that bombard us every day. I joined after I watched the city council in my hometown of Greenfield vote to require smoke-free workplaces. That really opened my eyes about tobacco.

Most people who start smoking do so while in middle or high school. The tobacco industry knows this and exploits us. So our work reaches young people and gives them the tools to resist. We teach a program called "Tar Wars" to fourth and fifth graders, visiting every classroom in the school district. We tell them, for example, that for what they spend on cigarettes in a year, they could take a trip to Disney World.

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