Smoking prohibited

Douglas County students are taking aim at tobacco with a new weapon: a bowling ball.

Elementary students from Kennedy, Woodlawn and Pinckney schools bowled while learning about the dangers of tobacco use last week at Royal Crest Lanes, 933 Iowa. The event was sponsored by Douglas County Students Against Smoking.

Caleb Powers, president of the group, said the bowling alley was the perfect place to make children aware of the dangers of smoking.

“It’s such a place you associate with cigarette smoke,” said Powers, a senior at Free State High School. “It shows them you can have fun here without cigarettes.”

The bowling alley went smoke-free from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. while children were bowling.

Members of the anti-smoking group and high school volunteers organized other activities for the event, including trivia games, worksheets and a poster contest. Children made posters with anti-smoking themes to hang up in their schools, and members of the group awarded prizes to the three they liked best.

The trivia game tested students on their knowledge of tobacco facts. They were asked questions such as what is the average age Kansas students smoke their first cigarette. (The answer is 12). The first group to answer correctly won prizes such as Pez dispensers.

Students Against Smoking is made up of high school students across the county who work with DCCCA facilitator Jodie Beisner to curb smoking in Douglas County youths. The group has advertisements on television, radio and billboards. Beisner said the group would work to be host to more events.

Porscha Radford, 10, said her favorite part of the program was bowling with her friends because such activities were a healthy alternative to smoking.

Free State High senior Caleb Powers, center, president of Douglas County Students Against Smoking, chats with Kennedy School sixth-graders Dylan Warrington, left, and Jasmine Sims about their bowling scores at last week's tobacco-free activity at Royal Crest Lanes. Students learned about the effects of smoking at the event.

“Instead of doing drugs, you could be outside playing or doing something else,” said the Woodlawn fifth-grader.

The event was educational for 10-year-old Quenton Todd, who said he learned things he didn’t know about tobacco, such as how nicotine is an addictive ingredient.

Powers said the group worked with all levels of school-aged children, but that this particular group was important to target.

To learn more about Douglas County Students Against Smoking, call DCCCA facilitator Jodie Beisner at 830-8238 or e-mail

“They’re all about ready to go into junior high, where the pressure really starts,” he said. “We won’t reach all of them, but hopefully we got to some.”

Shelby Smith, left, Ashley Rector, Marissa Ballard, Danielle Rountree and Raquel Rodriquez display their winning poster at the Douglas County Students Against Smoking tobacco-free activity at Royal Crest Lanes, 933 Iowa. Ballard is a Lawrence High School student and Students Against Smoking sponsor. The other girls are sixth-graders at Woodlawn School.

Here are results from the 2003 Communities That Care Survey for Douglas County and Kansas. Students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 were asked the following questions:Question: Have you ever smoked cigarettes?Answer: At least once.Douglas County: 32.7 percent.Kansas: 34.7 percent.Question: How old were you when you first smoked a cigarette, even just a puff?Douglas County: 12.4 years old.Kansas: 12.2 years old.