Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Mail Call: Toy cigarettes wrong

September 7, 2006

Toy cigarettes wrong

Nikki Leisten
De Soto

I attended the De Soto Days Festival on opening night. My daughter was enjoying the rides and having a good time. While waiting for her to get done with a ride, I noticed a young boy of 7 or 8 with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

I was in shock at seeing such a young child smoking. As I looked around the carnival, I saw numerous elementary, middle and high school-aged children walking around with cigarettes. I soon learned that the cigarettes were not real, but a fake version that was being sold at a booth at the carnival, along with many other inappropriate items for a family-centered event such as De Soto Days.

I am a teacher at Lexington Trails Middle School where we have initiatives in place to discourage youth smoking. Middle school children are at a very impressible age and many were in attendance at the De Soto Days Festival.

Because of the high number of cases of lung cancer -- the No. 1 cancer killer -- even cigarette manufacturers have initiated programs to help prevent youth smoking.

What kind of message does it send to our young people when there is a booth like this set up at a community event? I feel the fake cigarettes glamorized smoking, and smoking is anything but glamorous.

Since moving to De Soto nine years ago, I have enjoyed the De Soto Days Festival along with my family and friends. I hope to enjoy many more in the years to come with my two young daughters. I hope the items sold at this particular booth at the De Soto Days Festival were an oversight by the De Soto Days Committee. However, I feel in the future the committee should be fully aware of what is to be sold at the booths so items like this aren't sold to our young people again.

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