In the nation's first statewide effort, Brown & Williamson and Philip Morris U.S.A. have pledged to West Virginia an estimated $1.5 million annually for three years to expand the use of a school-based program aimed at reducing the use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
"West Virginia has a tremendous opportunity to dramatically reduce tobacco use among adolescents," noted State Superintendent Dr. Marockie. "Since West Virginia has one of the highest rates of teenage smokers, this program will be especially effective in reaching the most Ďat-risk' age group."
Funds will be used to provide student manuals and training for teachers in "Life Skills Training," a curricular program that is a proven drug prevention program. Aimed at middle school students, Life Skills training will begin with sixth grade teachers. Seventh and eighth grade teachers will receive training in the following two years.
"Our collective conscience mandates that we explore new options to prevent young people from falling into the grip of addiction to tobacco or other controlled substances," said Gov. Cecil Underwood. "We know that producing better health habits among students today will improve the health of our citizens tomorrow," Gov. Underwood noted. "Our history dictates the need for action; our future depends on it."
The West Virginia Department of Education will begin its training program in July for sixth grade teachers and will offer 13 summer sessions for educators that will impact over 21,000 students. Life Skills Training is designed to target the primary causes of substance use and is a documented, comprehensive, research-based program.
Studies have shown that the training reduces tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use by up to 75%, that the reductions are long-lasting (up to six years), and that it works when taught by teachers, peer leaders or health professionals. It has also been shown to decrease the use of inhalants, narcotics and hallucinogens.
Life Skills Training has received awards for prevention excellence from the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"This program builds on the effective work that has already been accomplished by the state's Safe and Drug free schools coordinators," Marockie added.
Statistics show that smoking and related diseases are the number one cause of deaths in the Mountain State. Over 40% of West Virginia teenagers smoke as compared to the national rate of 36%. The rate among males ages 15-19 was 31% in West Virginia versus 16% nationwide.
NOTE: A complete schedule of training for sixth grade teachers is attached.
Life Skills Training Summer 1999
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