Carrying a healthy message

CALUMET – When asked by Kaylynn Pirkola if they would smoke a cigarette if a friend offered one, most of a group of seven Washington Middle School girls said no, but a couple said yes, which surprised Pirkola.

Pirkola, who is a senior at Calumet High School and a member of the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter, was overseeing a display table outside the school cafeteria with various items simulating the effects of tobacco smoking, including the tar which builds up in the lungs of smokers, phlegm, stained teeth, and even a set of healthy lungs and a set of what the lungs of a heavy smoker would look like. Pirkola also handed out printed material about the dangers of tobacco smoking, which some students took.

The display will be in the building through Friday.

Pirkola said the members of SADD have been presenting the display for years, and she thinks it’s still needed.

“A lot of middle school and high school students, they smoke,” she said.

The display did have a positive effect on a school janitor two years ago, Pirkola said. The janitor quit smoking after seeing it.

Pirkola said many students seem to be impressed with the display.

“A lot of the kids think it’s cool to check it out,” she said. “They’re all like, ‘that’s gross.'”

Many of the students who stop by the display tell her they learned something from it, Pirkola said. Some have told her they tried to get their parents to stop smoking.

Pirkola said she’s certain some C-L-K students smoke during school hours.

“They’re not supposed to smoke on campus, but some of them sneak out,” she said.

She also talks to students about the dangers of chewing tobacco, which some use, Pirkola said.

Pirkola said she thinks the SADD tobacco-smoking display is providing a positive impact for students who may not be fully aware of the dangers of tobacco use.

“It gives them a better influence,” she said.