Young people share truth about dangers of smoking

Posted at: 08/13/2013 5:29 PM
Updated at: 08/13/2013 5:43 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

SARATOGA SPRINGS - It's a day-long festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The music flows from a long list of rock bands, including Jane's Addiction and Alice in Chains.

Where the music goes, the kids will follow.

Which is why this big orange van has set up shop in SPAC's parking lot.

Dubbed the Truth Tour-----It's young people talking to, and sometimes dancing with young people about the dangers of smoking.

"In just one year, about 12,000 kids lost their moms to a tobacco-related disease," Alexandra Klos, a Truth Tour rider tells a couple of local high school students.

They're not preaching. They play games like Ninja and Rock, Paper, Scissors. While working in some facts about tobacco. Like the one about each day 38-hundred young people trying smoking for the first time. Or the truth that 400-thousand Americans die from tobacco.

The kids are given shirts, and other free stuff. But that's not all they take away.

"We're cousins and a lot of our family members have had lung cancer and everything like that. I've seen it firsthand, so I got the message," said John Eddy of Saratoga Springs

The goal is to reach the young people on their level. And it works.

"I think it's a lot better. Honestly I mean it gives kids a reason to take it in. If they're just sitting in a classroom, they're probably not going to listen," said Reese Freeman of Ballston Spa.

But it's not easy. Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars annually to market their products to new smokers. A lighter company is even a sponsor of this festival. But the Truth Riders are don't give up.

"If we can reach one person. If one person decides to not smoke or quit smoking," says Russ, a Truth Tour Rider. "We reach a lot of people."

The Truth campaign started in 2000.

According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it is directly responsible for keeping 450-thousand teens from starting to smoke during its first four years.