What’s expected to be Iowa’s largest-ever anti-tobacco summit opens today (Tuesday) in central Iowa. Keven Arrowsmith is a spokesman for the Iowa Division of Tobacco Use, Prevention and Control, which is helping sponsor the fourth annual gathering of the state’s members of JEL, or Just Eliminate Lies. Arrowsmith says about 650 teens from 80 of Iowa’s 99 counties will “Take a Stand Against Big Tobacco” at the summit today through Thursday on the Iowa State University campus. By comparison, about one-hundred students attended the summit in 2000. He says students attending this year’s summit will take part in three days of interactive sessions designed to stimulate discussion and develop strategies to take on the tobacco industry through education, grassroots activity and counter-marketing. The summit is entirely youth-driven and is a youth-focused event led by teens themselves. The executive council members are Iowa teens chosen by their peers for their passion about the tobacco issue and how it affects their state and local communities. Arrowsmith says it’ll be three days of intense learning along with other students from across Iowa who share the desire to educate individuals on the hazards of tobacco use and secondhand smoke. The summit will culminate Thursday with a rally and march through the ISU campus. Arrowsmith says one of the more interesting sessions teens will attend is called Manipulation, during which teens will learn how tobacco companies target today’s youth to maintain and increase their customer base. A recent study by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids stated that 11-and-a-half million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked illegally by Iowa kids each year.
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