Teens direct tourists to smoke-free eateries

Posted: Friday, June 01, 2001

The students of Nancy Seamount's health classes withstood the rain and the rebuffs of harried tourists Thursday as they handed out pamphlets telling visitors which restaurants in Juneau are smoke-free.

The students were at the docks in honor of World No Tobacco Day, an annual celebration started in 1986 by the World Health Organization to promote tobacco-free living. This is the fourth year students have done this, Seamount said.

"Tobacco use is an issue that particularly energizes the kids," Seamount said. "Over half of our students have watched a family member suffer from a (tobacco-related) disease."

Some of the Seamount's students, like ninth-graders Grace Dalman, Jo Marshall and Andrew Pendleton, also are members of TATU, or Teens Against Tobacco Use, a health awareness program run by the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.

TATU runs different programs through the year to educate the community on the dangers of tobacco use, Dalman said. So far this year, the group has spoken at the Alaska Health Fair and at middle schools, among other projects, she said.

"People learn best from kids and teens," Dalman said.

Still, many of the restaurants that do allow smoking work hard not to compromise the health or comfort of nonsmokers.

"We are as sensitive as we can be to the nonsmokers, and have gone to elaborate lengths to install an extraction system that takes used smoke" out of the restaurant, said Murray Damitio, owner of The Hangar on the Wharf.

Although some of the tourists rushed past the students on their way into downtown, many stopped to listen to what they had to say.

"This is great," said cruise-ship passenger Gary Nading as he watched the students hand out the pamphlets. "I wish the whole world were smoke-free."

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