BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- Briarcliff Middle School students took the pledge on Wednesday, vowing not to use tobacco products for one year.
More than 160 students signed the pledge, which is organized each year by the American Cancer Society, during their lunchtime in the cafeteria. The library also has a display on the dangers of smoking cigarettes and the benefits of quitting smoking.
"Kids get a lot of exposure to tobacco and they are not always getting the right message," said Kari Giordano, student assistance counselor at Briarcliff Middle School and High School. "We want to bring prevention awareness and combat the negative message."
Giordano said they discuss health risks of smoking, working in conjunction with health teachers at the middle school. Giordano said she was pleased to see all the middle schoolers signing the pledge.
"I think it's wonderful," Giordano said. "It shows that my message is getting across."
Students at the middle school said they don't smoke and don't know of any of their friends who smoke. Students cited concerns about smoking negatively impacting sports and the influence of anti-smoking ads as reasons why they don't smoke.
"There are a lot of bad things about smoking," said seventh grader Josh Jacobs. "It can cause cancer and ruin your teeth."
Briarcliff Middle School Principal Susan Howard said students have a lot of social and media pressure to start smoking.
"We want to make sure our kids make healthy choices," Howard said. "We want to tell these kids early on. There are still kids that smoke."
Howard said she hoped kids would get the message about smoking.
"All of these kids said they don't smoke and agreed to sign the pledge," Howard said. "There are a lot of pressure on kids to try various things. We would rather they not try. We live in a very health conscious community."
Aiden Healy, a member of the student council, said he hopes by educating kids in middle school they are less likely to smoke in high school.
"Smoking is unhealthy for your body," Healy said. "You shouldn't do it. It will make you sick."
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