William Beaumont Army Medical Center's Department of Preventive Medicine held several presentations addressing the dangers of tobacco use and other harmful products, at Ross Middle School in El Paso, Texas, Nov. 14.

The presentations, held a day before the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 15, aimed to prevent students from being tempted to start using tobacco and newer products, such as e-cigarettes, by raising awareness of the consequences to their health while instructing on safer techniques to lower stress.

"Our focus is threefold: how to reduce stress so students don't reach out to tobacco products, how to avoid peer pressure as much as they can to not allow them to pick up tobacco, and inform them as much as we can about these products so they are aware," said Bruce Gramlich, health promotion and wellness program manager, Department of Preventive Medicine, WBAMC.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 34 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. Additionally, more than 16 million Americans live with smoking-related diseases.

"The Great American Smokeout reaches out to adults with the message 'if you could stop smoking today, using tobacco products, juuling (a handheld, sometimes flavored, vaping device), e-cigarettes, any of which involves nicotine or tobacco, you could stop forever'," said Gramlich. "We're translating that message to students to give them information and help prevent them from (engaging in such behaviors) forever."

The Great American Smokeout is held every third Thursday of November, with an intent to provide smokers an opportunity to commit to healthier, smoke-free lives, starting on that day.
Presenters included staff from Army Community Services to discuss stress-relief techniques to the crowd of sixth through eighth-grade students.

"We're trying to go ahead and get them started on prevention," said Gramlich. "We're teaching them that it's okay to say no to peer pressure. Hopefully the message gets out and prevents future use."