'Stand up. Speak up. Seize control': Students rally against tobacco industry

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 8:30pm

You've heard it before, "smoking kills." In fact, complications from smoking kill nearly 500,000 people every year, but hundreds of students right here in Louisiana want to prevent that.

So they rallied Wednesday at the Capitol to take a stand.

"Stand up! Speak up! Seize control!" the students shouted.

That's exactly what hundreds of people here that the Capitol want to do.

"We want legislators to hear that big tobacco does impact our youth," said Dr. Torrie Harris, director of Louisiana Tobacco-free Living.

Dr. Torrie Harris has been working for decades to educate the community about the effects of tobacco. Their targeted group... kids.

"Youth are known for beginning to smoke at the ripe age of 14. We want to prevent that," Harris said.

That's why all these students are here. It's national 'Kick Butts Day.' They want our legislators to stand up to big tobacco.

"So, I think it's just showing legislators that it's not right to just let these tobacco industries and companies do what they're doing, and that we're trying to make a difference and trying to stand up," Carmen Frisard said.

Frisard is a senior in high school. She's seen a lot of her classmates succumb to the pressures of smoking.

"Peer pressure isn't worth it," Frisard said. "Whenever people tell you that 'It's cool. It's fun.' that it's not worth your life. It's not worth giving yourself away to tobacco at this age."

Or at any age, look at what tobacco can do to your body.

"You open the body bag, and whenever you open it, you try to see what parts of the body you think they are," Frisard said. "I think that's interesting. It's crazy that parts of the body can be so distorted and changed."

The tobacco industry spends nearly $9 million dollars a year on marketing. These people want legislators to push big tobacco to be more careful about how they market and who they market to.

"We're blind to it. We're blind to the things that people are saying, that people are doing, and what seems 'cool.' I'm hoping that they'll realize it's not cool. It's not okay," Frisard said.

This is the 19th annual "Kick Butts Day," with nearly 1,500 events happening around the country.

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