For Immediate Release: January 23, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
MONTPELIER, VT – Governor Jim Douglas will host more than 330 student members of Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) at the 13th annual State House Rally today at 10:30 a.m. The students will march from Montpelier High School to the State House, where Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN and legislators will join them on the House floor. The theme for this year’s event is “Strength in Numbers.”
VKAT is a statewide initiative for students grades 5-8, and has grown from 10 to 51 schools during the last 13 years. The goal of the VKAT groups is to reduce and prevent youth tobacco use and to help youth make healthy decisions in all aspects of their lives. Student participants, with help from guidance counselors and student assistance professionals (SAPs), have worked together to decrease smoking rates among Vermont’s youth.
According to the Health Department’s 2007 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 7 percent of 8th graders smoked one or more cigarettes during the past 30 days. Overall, smoking rates for Vermont youth have been cut in half during the past decade.
“The VKAT groups are dedicated to informing their peers about the risks of tobacco use,” said Commissioner Moffatt. “Their hard work is an example of how a committed group can make lasting improvement to the overall health of Vermont. This is the next generation of Vermonters, a generation that knows that the right choice is not to smoke.”
VKAT teams from around the state will report on activities in their schools and communities to raise awareness about the dangers of using tobacco products and the benefits of healthy behaviors. Legislators will then meet with VKAT groups from their regions and join them for lunch after the rally.
Funding for the program comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program is a collaboration between the Vermont Department of Health and Green Mountain Peer Projects. For more information about VKAT, go to www.goVKAT.org or www.gmppvt.org.