They quit before they ever started — and that’s a good thing.
A group of kids from Fort Hamilton Army Base made pledges not to smoke and encouraged soldiers to stop lighting up during “Kids Kick Butts Day” on March 18. Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 30 children in Fort Hamilton’s youth programs spent weeks learning how tobacco companies target them to replace the scores of smokers whose lives are extinguished by tobacco each year. Then the youths took their posters outside the fort’s commissary on Kick Butts Day to show soldiers what they learned. And the event got some kids really fired up, an organizer said.
“One kid was so passionate that, when he saw somebody outside of [the commissary] smoking, he ran up and told him to stop,” said Sarah Ibanez, the fort’s youth center director.
So Ibanez turned the interaction into a teachable moment.
“I had to show the children that people make choices, and that’s why were educating them, and if that’s his choice to smoke, then he’s going to smoke,” she said. “I told them ‘this is why we make the right choice.’ ”
That soldier wasn’t the only one they warned about the dangers of inhaling — and they weren’t just blowing smoke.
Annually, tobacco use kills 28,200 New Yorkers and costs the state $10.39 billion in health care bills, according to information from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
One soldier who chatted with the kids said he doesn’t smoke, but he was happy the youngsters were on the war path against smoking.
“I think it’s great,” said Sgt. Fabio Clarke. “I don’t smoke myself, but I know it’s happening on base.”