2011-12-14 / Living

SOS: Spotlight on Smokeless Tobacco

The seventh grade Health classes at Jourdanton Jr. High School recently completed the curriculum S.O.S.: Spotlight on Smokeless Tobacco.

Classes began with Session 1: What Does It Mean to Me? Students discovered what they already knew about smokeless tobacco. They learned about the dangers of such products and the advertising techniques used by companies to entice young people to use their tobacco products. They also studied the 6 Steps to Making Good Decisions. Students read an article and watched a video about Sean Marsee, a runner who won 28 track medals in the 400 meter relay, but lost his life to oral cancer at age 19 .

Students then studied the lives of two survivors of oral cancer (due to smokeless tobacco). Rick Bender, “the man without a face,” was a Semi-Pro baseball pitcher with the California Angels. He had started “dipping” at age 12, and by the time he was 20, he had lost a third of his tongue, half his jaw, and all the flesh connecting the right side of his neck. He also had lost the use of his pitching arm. Bill Tuttle, another survivor, was an outfielder who spent eleven seasons in the major leagues before he was diagnosed with oral cancer after 37 years of using chewing tobacco. He had picked up this habit while playing professional baseball.

After lessons were completed, students were able to discuss and share opinions about the topics learned, and they participated in role-playing, which was the students’ favorite activity. The students were led in these lessons by Ms. Rosalinda Gutierrez.

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