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Local teens honored for “talking back to tobacco”

HELENA — Local teenagers were honored this week for drawing attention to the dangers of tobacco.

Lewis and Clark Public Health presented awards Wednesday to the winners of its third annual “Talk Back to Tobacco” competition.

Thirty middle- and high-school students from Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater Counties submitted artwork urging their peers to say no to tobacco.

Josie Marks, a senior at Jefferson High School, took first place with her design. It featured a pair of eyes and the slogan, “Open your eyes to the lies; vaping clouds your mind.”

Marks said she has seen many teens starting to use vaping products.

“There’s a lot better things to do than vape,” she said. “You’ve just got to find what you’re looking for.”

Marks’ winning design will now appear on a billboard just off U.S. Highway 12, on the east side of East Helena, for the next eight weeks. The second-place design, by Ali Heimbach of the Project for Alternative Learning, will be on a billboard on Helena’s west side for four weeks.

Scout Lynde, of Broadwater High School, received third place. Peta Compton, Emmalee Madden and Kamryn Horne, of Helena High School, got fourth.

Judges from all three counties graded each entry on criteria like the message and the artistry.

Sarah Sandau, Lewis and Clark Public Health’s tobacco use prevention health educator, said putting these students’ work on billboards will help their message connect with other teens – and the wider community.

“I want the community to take away that the teen voice is powerful, and that it has a strong message, which is that they are able to stay away from tobacco marketing and take a stand against it,” she said.

The contest was sponsored by a grant through Montana’s reACT program, a youth anti-tobacco program linked to the Tobacco Use Prevention Program of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

-Reported by Jonathon Ambarian/MTN News

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