Two life-size cardboard cutouts of a male and female teenager are helping teach kids in eastern Iowa about the dangers of smoking. Nurse Renee Gould says the cutouts are actual images of two volunteers — called “Iowa’s Smoking Teens” — that’ve been altered to show the results of smoking. She says from addiction in their brains, to throat cancer, to necrotic dead toes, they’ve put pictures on the bodies to show the impact of smoking. Gould and others at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa use the cutouts to make an impression on kids. She says kids can start smoking as young as nine years old. She says most adults who’re smoking started before they were 18-year-years-old, so it’s really a youth disease. She says kids are making the decisions that affect them for a lifetime. Gould says showing the impact on the whole human body is important.She says different things appeal to different people. Wrinkles, stained fingers and stained teeth may make more of an impression than lung cancer, which she says they may think won’t be a problem for a long time to come. Gould says they do get a reaction out of the kids that see the cutouts.She says they’re pretty grossed out by them, because they’re quite graphic. Gould says the idea for the cutouts came after a colleague saw a cutout of former U-of-I football coach Hayden Fry in a grocery store. They combined that approach with a poster Gould had. She had gotten a poster from Canada that showed the effects of smoking on a girl from the waist up, and she says that, combined with the cutout of Fry, led them to produce the smoking cutouts. Gould says they’ve also produced a poster of the cutouts that they’ll mail to groups who’d like to use one in their education campaign. For more information or to view the images, visit www.uihealthcare.com and go to the cancer center link.
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