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Easthampton High School and Smith Vocational High School garner grants for tobacco prevention work

— Two area high schools will share a grant award of $4,500 from the state to support tobacco prevention education activities.

Smith Vocational Agricultural High School and Easthampton High School are both part of The 84 Movement, a state Public Health Department initiative that trains students to educate their peers and communities about the dangers of smoking and other tobacco products.

The grant to the two local schools is one of 14 awarded to youth groups across the state, according to the Hampshire Council of Governments, which coordinates the county’s Tobacco Free Community Partnership, the umbrella organization for The 84. The initiative’s name comes from the 84 percent of Massachusetts teens who do not smoke.

The 84 club at Smith Voke, formed last year, now has about a dozen student members, primarily 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, said Tricia Dandrea, the school’s health educator.

“Ninety percent of adult tobacco users began smoking before age 18,” she noted. “So that’s why this work with teens is so important.”

The grant will help support a community survey, student stipends and activities such as a planned “graffiti wall” with messages about the dangers of smoking and use of other tobacco products, Dandrea said.

Easthampton High School, which has had an 84 Club for the past six years, plans to conduct a community survey about the use and availability of those products, said Nancy Dunn, the school’s health and physical education teacher. Students are also designing a freshman assembly to educate younger classmates about the dangers of smoking.

More information on the 84 Movement is available at its website, www.The84.org.

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