Students throughout Iowa joined their counterparts across the nation in the twelfth annual "Kick Butts" rally against smoking. Katie Embree of Bettendorf is a prevention specialist with Scott County’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Services. She advises seven chapters of DFYIT, a youth group called Drug-Free Youth in Touch."

At a couple schools they made displays and brought materials from home that show what’s in a cigarette — chemicals like vinegar and toilet-bowl cleaners, and they made displays with those. Another school did a "grave wall," creating tombstones out of posterboard decorated with the names of loved ones who’ve died from smoking-related illness.

They set up a dozen of them, as Embree says twelve Iowans a day die from tobacco-related ailments. "We’re using the number 12 a lot," she says. Rain quenched plans to decorate sidewalks with anti-smoking messages, but schoolkids came up with other ways to get their message across.

Students at two of the middle schools participating in the Quad Cities wrote letters to their favorite restaurants, asking them to close their smoking sections. Youth advocates with the group JEL went to the capitol in Des Moines, and next month students in Knoxville plan to stage a mock trial to illustrate the evils of tobacco.