Students fight against tobacco use at State Capitol - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Students fight against tobacco use at State Capitol

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Hundreds of teenagers showed up to the State Capitol with one very important message on Friday.

As part of Tobacco Free Day, the West Virginia Youth Tobacco Prevention Program announced that there has been a decrease in tobacco use among middle and high school students between 2000-2011.

Bridgeport High School Senior Rachel Brown is president of the teen advisory council for RAZE.

RAZE is a teen-led organization that's been dedicated to fighting tobacco since 2001.

She lost her grandfather, Eddie Brown, a few years ago after he smoked and used chewing tobacco for decades.

"My freshman year, he died from lung, liver, and pancreatic cancer. He had surgery but he had a blood clot in his lung," she said.

Brown is not alone.  Many of the other students at the event shared similar stories.

"I have a loved one who's actually affected right now, she has two types of cancer. One is type four non-Hodgkin lymphoma and the second is stage four bone cancer," said Kimberly Robinson, senior at Poca High School.

According to new statistics, tobacco use has decreased by 28 percent among the state's high school students and 43 percent among the state's middle school students between 2000-2011.

Breanna Rinko is a student at Philip Barbour High School.  She she came to Charleston to learn how she could help her fellow students stop using tobacco products.

"We have a lot of students at Phillip-Barbour who use chewing tobacco and smoke cigarettes and we just want to find a way to help make them stop," she said.

RAZE is funded by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the American Lung Association.

Students hope their presence will send a strong message to the state legislature that it will need continued support to thrive.