Youth and Tobacco: Role Models in Movies


  • Watching movies that include smoking causes young people to start smoking.1 The more smoking young people see on screen, the more likely they are to start smoking.1
  • The percentage of youth-rated movies (G, PG, PG-13) that were smokefree doubled from 2002 to 2014 (from 32% to 64%). But in youth-rated movies that showed any smoking, the average number of tobacco incidents per movie also nearly doubled (from 21 to 38) over the same period.2
  • The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the studios’ organization that assigns ratings, provides a “smoking label” along with the regular rating for some movies that contain smoking. However, almost 9 of every 10 (88%) youth-rated, top-grossing movies with smoking do not carry an MPAA “smoking label.”2
  • The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report (Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults) concluded that an industrywide standard to rate movies with tobacco incidents R could result in reductions in youth smoking.1
  • Giving an R rating to future movies with smoking would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly 1 in 5 (18%) and prevent 1 million deaths from smoking among children alive today.3
  • In 2012, the Surgeon General concluded that exposure to onscreen smoking in movies causes young people to start smoking.1 Because of this exposure to smoking in movies:
  • 6.4 million children alive today will become smokers, and 2 million of these children will die prematurely from diseases caused by smoking.2
    • Between 2002 and 2014:2
      • Almost half (45%) of top-grossing movies in the United States were rated PG-13.
      • 6 of every 10 PG-13 movies (60%) showed smoking or other tobacco use.
      • (CDC Source)


Who smokes?

  • Each day, more than 3,200 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and approximately 2,100 youth and young adults become daily smokers.
  •  9 out of 10 smokers start before the age of 18,  and 98% start smoking by age 26.
  • 1 in 5 adults and teenagers smoke.
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Teens and Marijuana…Talking Points

Every Conversation Counts

You are the most powerful influence in your child’s life. More than friends. More than TV. More than celebrities. And that’s why it’s important that they hear from you about marijuana and alcohol use.

Talking with your teen about these topics can be hard, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to keep them safe and healthy. Having open conversations will ensure they know your expectations, and also how much you care about them.

Below are some questions that kids and teens might ask about alcohol and marijuana. There is often more than one right answer—so see what works best for you. You can tailor your responses based on your own view and experience.

Additional information on how to talk with your kids about alcohol and marijuana can be found in the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Parent Talk Kit and Marijuana Talk Kit.

Q: Some kids at school drink or use marijuana and they seem fine. What’s the big deal?
Q: What should I do if I’m at a party where people are using marijuana or alcohol?
Q: How can marijuana be harmful to me when it’s used as medicine by others?
Q: If it’s impossible to overdose from marijuana, why can’t I use it?
Q: Did you drink or smoke marijuana when you were my age?
Q: I heard people say they drive better when they are high. Is that possible?
Q: What does the new marijuana law say?
Q: Why is it okay for you to use marijuana or drink alcohol, but not for me?
Q: I heard marijuana is not as bad if it’s just in a brownie…right?
Q: My friends are starting to use marijuana (or drink alcohol), but I don’t want to. What should I tell them? I don’t want to lose my friends.
Q: What is worse, alcohol or marijuana?

Question: Some kids at school drink or use marijuana and they seem fine. What’s the big deal?

Potential Answers:

  • The effects of marijuana use at your age are hard to see. Just because someone seems fine doesn’t mean they aren’t being affected. A person’s brain is still developing into their twenties. The science is clear that when teens use marijuana, it can affect their memory, motivation and ability to learn.
  • The effects of alcohol aren’t always easy to see. After drinking, their grades might suffer or they might have a hard time sleeping at night. While drinking, teens are more likely to make poor decisions and put themselves in unsafe situations like fights, car crashes or overdosing. Kids who begin using alcohol at an early age have more problems with alcohol dependence as adults.
  • What your friends are doing isn’t what matters. What matters is that every time a kid uses illegal drugs, it puts them at risk—in lots of ways. Using alcohol or marijuana can affect your schoolwork, get you in trouble with the law, get you kicked off a sports team, make you do unsafe or harmful things, take away your motivation, or make you feel depressed.

Question: What should I do if I’m at a party where people are using marijuana or alcohol?

Potential Answers:

  • Any time you are in a situation like that, you can call me and I will come get you. If you don’t want your friends to know I’m coming to get you, let’s come up with a phrase that only we know. Like, “Yes Mom, I did my homework!” If I am not available, you have my permission to call a cab to take you home.
  • Any time someone pressures you to use alcohol or marijuana, you will need to stay strong and stay true to yourself and your choices. Let your friends know that you don’t need alcohol or drugs to have fun. If you need to, you can let them know that you face serious punishment at home for using alcohol or drugs.

Question: How can marijuana be harmful to me when it’s used as medicine by others?

Potential Answer:

  • All drugs, whether legal or illegal, have side effects. Some of the side effects for marijuana could be harmful to you because your brain and body are still developing. For someone who is very sick with an illness like cancer or epilepsy, a doctor and patient may decide the potential benefits of marijuana outweigh these risks. That doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone to use.

Question: If it’s impossible to overdose from marijuana, why can’t I use it?

Potential Answers:

  • If you mean overdose and die from marijuana, the answer is no, it’s not very likely. However, people can experience severe side effects like anxiety, psychotic reactions or become very ill. People can also injure themselves because marijuana affects judgment, perception and coordination. Marijuana use can be especially harmful when a person drives under the influence of marijuana.
  • It is also possible to overdose from synthetic marijuana—and sometimes marijuana is laced with other drugs, especially if not from a licensed retailer. It’s not easy to tell what kind of marijuana it is, especially if you did not buy it yourself. Edible marijuana in particular can be hard to use in safe doses. Using too much can be very dangerous and make you really sick.
  • Much like alcohol, one of the biggest risks posed by marijuana is being too impaired to make good decisions. It can change how you think and react, which is why driving after using marijuana is dangerous. That’s true for youth and adults. Marijuana can harm your brain, reduce your motivation, make you hallucinate, affect your ability to learn or remember information, and impair your judgment.

Question: Did you drink or smoke marijuana when you were my age?

Potential Answers:

  • [If you did] I did drink and/or smoke marijuana before I should have. The reason I regret it is because it put me in some risky situations and impaired my judgment. And now that I’m a parent, the absolute most important thing to me is that you are safe and healthy. I’m not saying these are experiences you should never have. I just don’t want you to have them while your body is still developing, or when you could get in trouble with the law.
  • [If you didn't] I didn’t drink or smoke marijuana. Even though I was curious and there was peer pressure, I knew that using drugs illegally wasn’t the path I wanted to take and that they could interfere with the activities that I enjoyed. I know that you are strong enough to make good choices.

Question: I heard people say they drive better when they are high. Is that possible?

Potential Answer: 

  • That is not possible. Marijuana can limit the brain’s ability to react to situations quickly and logically which can impair driving ability. That is why the Washington State Patrol is trained to identify drivers who are high, and you can go to jail for driving high.

Question: What does the new marijuana law say?

Potential Answers:

  • Washington State’s marijuana law makes it legal for adults over the age of 21 to use marijuana. However, there are limits to how much marijuana an adult can possess.
  • It’s still illegal to smoke marijuana in public—just like having an open container of alcohol in public is illegal.
  • It’s illegal to drive while high.
  • It is a felony for parents to provide marijuana to their children.
  • It’s illegal to take marijuana outside the state of Washington.

Question: Why is it okay for you to use marijuana or drink alcohol, but not for me?

Potential Answers:

  • The law says marijuana and alcohol are legal for adults over the age of 21. That is because adult brains are more developed and the science shows that it is less harmful for them to use. There is a lot of evidence that shows marijuana use can be harmful to teens—including damaging their memory, motivation and ability to learn.
  • At your age, the part of your brain that controls decision making and judgment is not fully developed. So, your ability to make good choices is not as strong as it will be when you are in your mid-twenties.
  • Adults have more life experience and generally use alcohol and marijuana in greater moderation and in safer environments. When you are an adult, it will be legal and appropriate for you to make these same choices.
  • Using alcohol or marijuana can affect your schoolwork, get you in trouble with the law, get you kicked off a sports team, make you do unsafe or harmful things, take away your motivation, or make you feel depressed.

Question: I heard marijuana is not as bad if it’s just in a brownie…right?

Potential Answer:

  • Actually, consuming marijuana-infused food and drinks can pose an even greater risk to your health and safety. That is because the “high” can be delayed, which makes it even harder for the user to know when they have had too much. There have been very serious accidents caused by people eating marijuana-infused foods.

Question: My friends are starting to use marijuana (or drink alcohol), but I don’t want to. What should I tell them? I don’t want to lose my friends.

Potential Answers:

  • I’m happy to hear that you don’t want to use marijuana (or drink alcohol). Let’s talk about some of the ways you’d be comfortable responding if you are invited or pressured to use.
  • You can tell them how you feel about it. You don’t need to judge them; simply explain that you don’t want to use alcohol or marijuana, and if you hang out together you’d rather do activities that don’t involve marijuana or alcohol. You can also tell them that your parents have told you there will be serious consequences if you use alcohol or marijuana.

Question: What is worse, alcohol or marijuana?

Potential Answers:

  • Both drugs are harmful in similar and different ways. Both of them can hurt your brain, your body and your future. Both of them can impair your judgment, and put you in risky situations. And if you take too much, they can both make you very sick. Mixing alcohol and marijuana can also be a dangerous combination—harming your judgment and damaging your body more than just using one alone.
  • Honestly, it’s not a question of which one is worse. I want you to avoid anything that can harm you – whether that’s using tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.

Make it a two-way conversation by asking your child questions too.

Q: Do you have any questions about alcohol or marijuana?
Q: Are kids at your school using marijuana or alcohol? Are they talking about using it?
Q: Why do you think some people choose to use?
Q: What would you do if your friends asked you to use marijuana or drink with them?
Q: Have you ever been offered marijuana?
Q: If you don’t feel comfortable talking to me, who else could you go to if you have questions about using marijuana or drinking alcohol?
Q: I noticed a lot of teen marijuana use and drinking in the movie we watched last night. What did you think about that? Do you have any questions?
Q: Do you know what would happen to you if you got caught using marijuana or drinking alcohol?
Q: Do you know that marijuana can harm you–both your health and future opportunities?

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“Talk. They Hear You.”


SAMHSAPrevent Underage Drinking With
“Talk. They Hear You.”

For many kids and teens, summer means fun and relaxation. However, the freedom of the summer months can mean an increased risk for underage drinking. In fact, the average first use of alcohol by young people in the United States peaks in June and July.

As the school year ends and summer begins, parents may have more time to connect with their children and more opportunities to have meaningful talks. SAMHSA’s app “Talk. They Hear You.” can help parents prepare for one of the most important conversations they may ever have. This free app, available through the App StoreSMGoogle Play™, the Windows® Store, and Windows® Phone Store, features an interactive simulation that uses avatars to help parents practice bringing up the topic of alcohol, learn the questions to ask, and get ideas for keeping the conversation going.

The app is part of SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” Underage Drinking Prevention National Media Campaign, which encourages parents and caregivers to talk with children early about the dangers of alcohol. Access additional resources and information about the campaign and underage drinking prevention.

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Project Grad Nite 2015!

Not Your’ Mother’s Grad Night

 By Debbi Fincher  (Written: June 2010 for San Juan Journal)

Another school year is quickly coming to an end, and on the minds of all high school seniors is graduation! Often this “rite of passage” is viewed by many as a chance to celebrate with drinking alcohol or using illegal substances.

Thankfully, our community has stepped up to help offer our graduating seniors another option, Project Grad Night, an all night, alcohol-free/drug-free party exclusively for them! With a participation level over 94% each year from the senior class, the buy-in is huge! What makes this so powerful is the students have made a conscious choice to enjoy their graduation night without drugs and alcohol.  And, in the end, only the students can make that decision for themselves. “According to the 2008 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, about two out of three seniors choose not to drink alcohol.”

Project Grad Night is the community at its best. Students, parents, local business owners and community members come together to support our youth in helping to make healthy choices. Not only will this positive influence be felt on grad night, but as they continue to make decisions about how they want to celebrate other “special passages” as they move into their “independence” and the decisions it will require.

The graduating seniors will be whisked off minutes after their graduation ceremony on to a thrilling, fun and engaging night of activities. The planning has been in the works for the past year for this group, but perhaps on their minds for the last few years. In 2007, Project Grad Night was first introduced on San Juan Island. Parent volunteer, Joyce Stimpson, was involved from the start and continues to help facilitate the program. Her son Loch,  FHHS ‘07 Grad said, “it was nice of Project Grad Night to take the stress off of the kids to come up with a party because there was already one planned that we didn’t have to worry about getting broken up by the cops.”

Each year, the planning committee of senior parents, try to keep the events a surprise making the night that much more intriguing and safe. And, the fun associated with it gives that feeling of a “natural high”. Events have included “sumo wrestling”, a game of “Survivor” on Jones Island and a sunrise cruise aboard the whale watch boat the Odyssey. Loch also said, “I think the feeling of doing something as a class for the last time gets understated far too much with this experience.”

This will be a night to remember and well, they’ll be able to remember it if they are alcohol and drug-free. Graduation night is supposed to be fun, not fatal. Give those graduating seniors a huge congrats as you send them on their way that night, they’ve already shown great wisdom in their plans for their big night out!

Much gratitude also goes out to the many volunteers and donors giving their time, talents and resources to make this happen! The San Juan Island Prevention Coalition supports this program but it’s through fundraising efforts from senior parents and the students in our community that make Project Grad Night a reality!  Here’s to their healthy future…

A Few Photos from 2015 Project Grad Nite, truly a magical evening…

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Vapor Devices…Do you know?


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May 16th Proclaimed Distracted Driving Awareness Day for Friday Harbor & San Juan County

Last year, both the Mayor of Friday Harbor, Carrie Lacher and San Juan County Councilman, Bob Jarmin, Proclaimed MAY 16th to be our communities Distracted Driving Awareness Day.

As you may recall, we had the Arrive Alive Tour come visit our local high school and over 200 teens got to experience the driving simulator on Distracted Driving. Many teens were especially impacted by their inability to watch the road and text while driving the simulator. A pre and post test were given by the Arrive Alive Team and the data supports the effectiveness of these types of events. Attached are those results. 

Friday Harbor-San Juan Island Prevention Coalition-5-16-14-Survey Results

Here are a few photos from that day… What habits are you changing when behind the wheel, so you are not distracted?



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SAMHSA-5 Conversation Goals to Talk to your Kids about Alcohol

Talking To Kids About Alcohol
5 Conversation Goals

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking.

More than 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.

Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol.

You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks.

You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.

Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them.

Keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.

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Public Service Announcements made by local teens for healthy choices for youth.

Part of going to the Washington State Prevention Summit in the fall, is to return to your community and put together a project on prevention issues before the school year ends. This year, some of the youth took a creative path to sharing healthy messages for their younger counterparts. These videos, Public Service Announcements (PSA), will be shared in our local Elementary School by their PE Teacher, as he helps prepare the students for healthy choices, especially as kids take to being outdoors with the nicer weather. Enjoy!

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On-Going Programs and Resources to keep our kids engaged in interesting activities!

Summer Calendar insert on going programs 2015

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The Marijuana Report: Usage by 12 to 17 year olds


This graph shows that adolescents (ages 12-17) in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use have considerably higher rates of past-month marijuana use than teens in states that haven’t legalized “medical” pot. Alabama has the lowest rate—5%, while Rhode Island has the highest—13%.

A graph of past-month use among young adults (ages 18-25) would look almost the same except the numbers are higher. Utah has the lowest rate among young adults—11%, while Rhode Island has the highest—30%, or nearly one-third of the state’s young adults!

The adolescent graph appears on page 11 of the newly released Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’s (HIDTA) publication, titled The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 3.

Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana at the end of 2012, but neither state allowed recreational sales until 2014. The data about adolescent use are from 2013, one year before full legalization was implemented in either state. Thus, the levels of use in this graph pertain to legal “medical” pot but not to legal “recreational” pot.

What will adolescent marijuana use look like in Colorado in 2014? It will almost certainly be higher. Why? By the end of 2014, Colorado had 2,233 licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational marijuana stores, growing facilities, and infused products (edibles) producers, making and selling pot in various forms throughout the state.

By the end of 2014, Colorado had licensed a total of 827 pot shops selling “medical” or “recreational” marijuana, double the number of Starbucks (405) and nearly quadruple the number of McDonald’s (227) in the state.

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